My difficulties began when I split from my wife in 2009. We had 1 child between us and 2 that older kids that were from her previous relationship.
I was (still am) self-employed and at the time was running my business as a limited company. My ex- was not working. I had a mortgage on our family home that was in my name only & several loans, overdrafts and credit cards that we used to manage the business and personal spending.
After we split & I moved into a small rented accommodation, it quickly became apparent that I wouldn't be able to service the running of two households and the debts my ex-wife and I had accrued between us. All of these debts were in my name only.
After a period of around six months trying to negotiate payment plans with my creditors and fighting off the rather threatening and persistent debt collectors, I realized that the size of the debt and number of them would be too much for me to manage so I asked for help from Keith at the Company he worked for.
Initially I was just a little bit embarrassed as I consider myself a bit of a problem solver and quite good at negotiation, so it was a bit of a climb down for me to accept I needed this help, but asking Keith to step in only proved what a good decision maker I am! He quickly took note of my particular position, asked a few questions about my debt and put in place a broad outline of what was needed within around 48 hours.
Keith mentioned the difference between bankruptcy and an IVA solution. Because I had a strong desire to keep the house, and for the equity to be retained if possible, the only possible way to do this was through an IVA. After this decision was made the process was fairly speedy and straightforward.
One of the things I really liked about the setup stage was the ability to tell my creditors and debt collectors I was processing an IVA and for them to contact the IVA company in future. In fact, after Keith got involved, the drop in phone calls and letters was like turning off a tap. They stopped almost instantly and my personal day-to-day pressure & stress became much less as a result. My mind was much clearer to think about my work, answer the phone freely and open my mail without hesitation or dread.
There were still some hurdles to overcome but the fact that someone was working on my behalf to discuss the matter with my creditors was priceless in terms of the peace of mind and break from the pressure. It was like going on holiday.
The arrangement meant I was able to keep my home, maintain the company status (although I had to change banks) and retain a modicum of self-esteem in so far as I was able to pay some of the money back to my creditors.
The process continued until the IVA was setup and running within around 6 weeks. What a rapid turnaround that was. Looking through my old emails, I can see how much tension was released when the agreement was setup.
Once the arrangement was in place I was given a start date, made an initial payment and 5 years term (60 months) to make the regular payments. It was a simple standing order arrangement with the IP.
Every year I received an incoming and outgoing sheet to fill in and monitor if my circumstances had changed and occasionally I would need to file forms regarding PPI payments and checking I couldn't release equity from my home. These form filling were a bit worrying when I first received them as I wondered if my equity would be lost into the IVA, but a quick call to Keith to get some peace of mind and all was well.
Things proceeded and after month 54 - 6 months before the IVA was due I was asked to provide a valuation on the property, which I promptly did. This was a little concerning as a high valuation of the property could have extended the IVA by a further 12 months. Fortunately the valuation didn't cause too much of an alarm and I received notice from my IP that they would not be asking me to release any equity from the home and my IVA would finish within 6 months.
At last, in March the final payment was made and the debt is clear. To say I'm relieved, is an understatement. Altogether the process was made very, very straightforward and generally it was pain free. I have already recommended this sort of solution to friends who have found themselves in similar situation.