One of my residential mowing customers called me one day about 7 weeks ago, left a message: "I am going to have my husband do the mowing, please don't come to my home any longer." She went on to say that "since he is around the house, he can do it." This lady has been a customer for about five years, and alway paid pretty well. This season was no different for the April invoice. I did notice her husband around the house sometimes when there to mow, unlike past years. We exchanged pleasantries a time or two, but nothing much. After several letters with overdue Statements, each letter worded more strongly than the last, I finally got a response from the husband. Heretofore, all business communication had been with his wife. He explained they were in "extreme financail crisis" and went on to say they are filing for bankruptcy. Further, he said they didn't have the money to pay (about $500) now. He had lost his employment (reason why he was "around the house"), and his wife also lost a newly found job. In the past, she was not working outside the home. He explained I was not included in the list of creditors because "we want to be sure that you get all the money your are owed, ... blah, blah, ... you have taken such great care of our property, ... blah, blah ...." He said that if we were on the list we probably would not get all our money. His plan was to pay me something each month, starting in September, until it is all paid. He said he would not give me any timetable, nor how much they could pay, but that was their plan. I have never had this happen, nor have I known anybody closely who has filed for bankruptcy. I expect they are filing Chapter 13, reorganization of finances, not Chapter 7, liquidation. However, I now believe his plan is a ploy to eliminate any chance of me getting any money. I have talked to a couple of CPAs and another person in the world of finance (none of them bankruptcy attorneys - looking at finding one to speak with), and all believe that I am a target of falsehoods. The understanding is that all debts MUST be listed, and a court appointed trustee will oversee ALL expenditures. The man's "pay you on the side, outside the bankruptcy proceedings" does not seem possible. The trustee will not permit him to pay me, while others on the creditor list have first dibs on any money. He will always have an excuse not to pay, "... the trustee says there are other creditors to be paid this month." Has anybody had a similar experience? Am I wrong to be skeptical of his plan? Am I better to be on the creditor list, and if so, where can I learn about the bankruptcy filing? I suspect my outstanding balance is a small amount compared to other outstanding debts. But, if there is any chance of getting the money, I want to do so. However, for the amount involved, I cannot afford much attorney time to help the wandering through the process. Thanks. P.S. It is entirely possible the whole story of the bankruptcy is a ploy itself. How do I learn of the public record of their filing? They may just have made up the story, with the intent of opting out of paying me anything. I am cynical because the "husband will do the mowing" was a falsehood. I have seen a neighborhood teenager mowing their lawn, albeit much less often than I was mowing. The man did say "... we stopped your services because we didn't want to run up your bill any more ... we hired somebody else." So, he was truthful in that part, unlike his wife.