Q: I am considering bankruptcy, but I'm not sure if I qualify. I am currently 60 or more days past due on bills.
I have tried to consolidate my bills without success. I have creditors calling threatening wage garnishment and being sued. What do I need to do to find out if I qualify for pro bono help?
A: You should contact a local bankruptcy attorney for a free consultation.
Qualification to file for relief under chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code does not depend upon the number of creditors that you have, the amount you owe or whether you are behind on those debts. Qualification for a chapter 7 discharge depends upon your monthly income and expenses in relation to the amount of your unsecured debt. There are two separate tests, one being the Means Test and the other being the Abuse Test.
Qualification to file for relief under chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code depends upon whether your income and living expenses will provide you with enough disposable income to pay your chapter 13 plan payment. You plan payment amount will depend upon the amount of secured debt and priority debt (generally taxes and child support) that you must pay along with the amount of attorney's fees that are being paid through the plan. If you can pay the secured and priority debt along with your attorney's fees in what is called the commitment period and you still have money available to pay into the plan, you will also be required to pay what you can afford to pay to unsecured creditors such as credit card debt and medical bills. The commitment period will either be 3 years or 5 years depending upon the family's monthly income and the size of the household.
The best way to answer your question is to take advantage of a free initial consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney that handles chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases even if you think you need to file under chapter 7. Become educated on all the issues involved and related to your current economic situation, find out the advantages and disadvantages for filing under each chapter and use an attorney that can help you make the right decision for you. Most bankruptcy attorneys will meet with you at no charge for the initial appointment. You can use the Justia "Find a Lawyer" link at the top of this page to search for an attorney.
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