My suggestion would be, yes, you should appear in court on the day of your hearing. Not doing so can have negative consequences (even if you end up filing a Missouri or Illinois bankruptcy later on). let me explain why.
If you fall behind on your debts, one of the things that a creditor can do is to sue you for breach of contract. In other words, you agreed to make certain payments per month, you failed to do so, and now they want the court to recognize that you have breached your end of the deal. In order to make this happen, the creditor (through their attorney) will file the Petition for Breach with the proper jurisdiction, and then have you served with a summons. The summons is very important, because this is the document that informs you that a hearing has been set on matter, which includes date, time, and location. If you are not properly served with a summons, the hearing cannot take place.
Assuming you are properly served, the summons will indicate the date and time on which the hearing will be held. This hearing is your opportunity to make any argument you might have as to the validity of the debt in question. But if you do not appear on the designated date and time, the creditor will receive what is called a ‘Default Judgment.’ A default judgment is an order from the court essentially saying that the creditor wins by default (because you did not show up). Once the creditor receives this type of judgment, it may then move forward with its range of remedies. These would include a wage garnishment, bank levy, or placing a lien against your property. So this is why it is important to make an appearance.
But what if you are also contemplating bankruptcy? I would absolutely still recommend making an appearance (because if you fail to appear, the default judgment will be rendered). Except on this occasion, I always suggest to ask the court for a continuance. A continuance is a legal way of asking the judge to give you more time to sort things out. If the judge asks why you need a continuance, you would simply tell him/her that you are going to be filing for bankruptcy, and the debt in question will be included (and thus discharged). The judge will undoubtedly grant the continuance, which will give you anywhere from thirty to sixty days until the next setting. In the meantime, you can make arrangements to get your bankruptcy petition together, and get rid of not only this debt, but all others as well.
The affordable St. Louis bankruptcy attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been making sure our clients receive the best and most expert advice and bankruptcy legal services possible. Whether you file a St. Louis Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a St. Louis Chapter 13 bankruptcy, we want to get rid of all the debt you do not want to keep, save all the property that belongs to you, and make sure you receive the fresh start / clean slate that will get you back on the road towards financial freedom.