Hi - thanks for looking me up again.
1. Is the plan I just described workable and legal?
Yes, what you've described is legal and it is do-able IF the creditors will cooperate with you. USUALLY, unsecured creditors (like credit card companies) will negotiate and settle because they know that if bankruptcy is filed, nothing will be recovered.
2. If I just go ahead and pay each credit card company 50% of the 30k, what can they do to me about the rest of the money I owe them?
UNLESS you have a settlement agreement with each creditor, even if you pay 1/2 of the amount due to each, they can still sue you for the remaining balance. Thus, you should try to reach a settlement and have an agreement in place before paying them (if the payment is less than the full amount due).
3. How long can they come after me for the balance and can they garnish wages?
The statute of limitations for an open account (credit card account) is 4 years from the date of the last charge or last payment, whichever is latest. Once the 4 years pass by, the debt would be uncollectible. BUT, it's likely that they would sue before that point.
As for wage garnishment, yes the creditor can do this AFTER it obtains a judgment against you. Here's a good link about this: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/michigan-wage-garnishment-law.html
Do you have any info or links on wage garnishment in Florida since that is where I live, although all my property is in MI.
How could I prove to the credit card companies that I indeed would be forced into Chapter 7 if they did not negotiate. Why would they take my word for it?
Florida's wage garnishment laws are basically the same as Michigan. 25% of your wages can be garnished, etc. Here's a link: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/florida-wage-garnishment-law.html
As for convincing the creditors to settle, it's really just a negotiation, and you do have to try and convince them that you're on the verge of bankruptcy and unless they settle, they'll likely get nothing.
Also, if your creditor pulls a credit report on you and sees several accounts in arrears, it should be fairly evident that you're in a difficult situation - - which would validate your claims to the creditors.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).