Attorney Jonathan Petts

Attorney Jonathan Petts

Bankruptcy Attorney

Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in bankruptcy. He now serves as the Executive Director of Immigrants Like Us (“ILU”), a nonprofit that he co-founded in 2019 to expand access to legal immigration for low-income immigrants.


All ArticlesAfter BankruptcyBankruptcy BasicsBefore FilingCarsChapter 11Chapter 13Chapter 7CourtCredit Card DebtCreditors MeetingDebtsDeciding To FileDuring Bankruptcy CaseHow To FileMeans TestNondischargeable DebtsProperty ExemptionsStudent LoansTaxesUpsolveWage Garnishment

Articles written by Attorney Jonathan Petts

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Forms Explained

The Chapter 7 forms packet consists of a voluntary petition, schedules, and statements. The term “petition” is often used to describe the set of forms individuals filing for bankruptcy submit to the court. Here's a walk through of all of them.

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What are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Rules?

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules are not as difficult to understand as you might believe, but there’s quite a few of them. Keep reading to get a basic understanding of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy rules and ensure a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

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Can Bankruptcy Take Your House in 2020?

A serious fear that many people have when they file for bankruptcy relief is losing their home. Sadly, losing a home may prevent some people from seeking legal advice about bankruptcy relief. Let’s look at some factors that address the fear that bankruptcy takes homes.

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How will bankruptcy impact my student financial aid in 2020?

Whether you’re still at the beginning of your career and looking to improve your knowledge in your field by going to school or heading back to school to change your career altogether, chances are you’re worried about whether filing for bankruptcy protection will limit your options when it comes to getting student loans. This article will explore the impact of filing bankruptcy on someone’s ability to get a new student loan and provide some additional context about a filer’s ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

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Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2020 | The Truth

Chapter 11 bankruptcy can be quite similar to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But it's also really different. Learn how each type of bankruptcy can provide you with debt relief.

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Does Bankruptcy Clear Judgments in 2020?

When a creditor or debt collector gets a judgment against you, it's dischargeable as long as the original debt was dischargeable. The question becomes a bit more complicated if the creditor gets a judgment lien on your property. Here’s how it works.

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How Long Does A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Take in 2020?

Once filed, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes about 4 - 6 months to complete. The bankruptcy discharge is granted 3 - 4 months after filing in most cases. 

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Can I File for Bankruptcy After a Lawsuit in 2020?

Bankruptcy can help a lawsuit depending on the type of lawsuit you’re involved in. The most typical kind you might be facing is if a creditor has filed a civil suit against you for non-payment of a debt which may lead to the creditor garnishing your paycheck.

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Keeping a Checking Account During Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (Updated 2020)

If your account is being garnished, the bankruptcy case should stop the garnishment. The garnishment should not start again if the debt is wiped out in the bankruptcy case. However, if the garnishment is for alimony, child support, or taxes, the bankruptcy won’t wipe out the debt and the garnishment continues.

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Can I File For Bankruptcy Online in 2020?

When you are hit by a sudden financial shock and need a fresh start, you naturally ask - can I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy online? In this article, we’ll explain the different options for filing for bankruptcy online and the pros and cons of each.

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What Happens to My IRS Tax Debt If I File Bankruptcy in 2020?

The most common of all of debts owed to the IRS is back, or unpaid, income taxes. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an option if your tax debt meets certain requirements.

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What Happens to My IRS Tax Debt If I File Bankruptcy in 2020?

The most common of all of debts owed to the IRS is back, or unpaid, income taxes. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an option if your tax debt meets certain requirements.

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Can I Get Rid of my Medical Bills in Bankruptcy in 2020?

This article will explain what bankruptcy is and what type of bankruptcy may be beneficial to you, how your medical debt is affected by bankruptcy, and how you can get started on your journey to discharging your debt and obtaining a fresh start. 

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What are the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Income Limits in 2020?

Learn about the Chapter 7 bankruptcy income limits including how you may still be eligible for Chapter 7 relief under the bankruptcy means test even if your average income exceeds the median income.

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Should I File for Bankruptcy for Credit Card Debt in 2020?

Credit card debt can prevent you from paying your day-to-day living expenses. By filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you can get rid of credit card debt while protecting your property. However, you need to qualify for Chapter 7 by having income that is below the average median income in your state.

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What Happens When a Chapter 13 Case is Dismissed in 2020?

If you have a dismissed Chapter 13 case, you may have several options. You might be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, even if you cannot afford to pay another attorney to help you. Upsolve provides no cost bankruptcy services to low-income Americans.

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Why is Chapter 13 Probably A Bad Idea in 2020?

An unsuccessful Chapter 13 can leave you in worse financial shape. It costs more than Chapter 7 and your case is less likely to be successful.

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What is the Meeting of Creditors?

The meeting of creditors is part of every bankruptcy case. Most times, it only involves the bankruptcy trustee and person who filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

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What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Bankruptcy exemptions are laws that protect your property in a bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy relief does not mean that you have to give up everything you own. Learn how exemptions protect your property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy: What is it? Should I file? How to file?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a common legal process to clear your debt, but it’s not right for everyone. Let’s take a look at some bankruptcy basics to help you learn about it and decide whether it's right for you.

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What is Secured Debt?

Secured debt is connected to a piece of property that the bank can take back if there's a payment default. The most common type of secured debt are car loans.

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Low Cost Bankruptcy: Do Good Options Exist?

Filing for bankruptcy can get expensive. Apart from finding an affordable bankruptcy attorney, there are ways to file at low cost.

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What is Unsecured Debt?

Unsecured debt is not tied to any property (collateral) and includes credit cards and medical debt. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases eliminate most unsecured debts.

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How to Break into Legal Tech as a Law Student

In 2018, venture capitalist invested over $1 billion into legal tech. There's never been a better time to think about finding a job at the intersection of tech and law.

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What type of debt can I erase in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy wipes out most but not all debts. Learn what type of debt is erased by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge.

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How To Deal With Creditors Who Contact You After Filing

Filing bankruptcy means that you shouldn't have to deal with creditors or debt collectors for a while.

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What To Bring To Your 341 Meeting Of Creditors

You should bring your ID and social security card.

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What To Do If You Don’t Remember Your Creditors

If you don't remember the creditors you owe when filing for bankruptcy, don't worry. In many cases, you can still erase the debts you owe.

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What is bankruptcy fraud?

Bankruptcy fraud is a broad term that describes a variety of actions that filers sometimes take to get an unfair advantage. Depending on what form that fraud takes, it’s considered a crime and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a (non-dischargeable) fine of up to $250,000. This article will explore some common types of bankruptcy fraud and provide you with some guidance on how you can avoid making choices that - while perfectly normal and legal generally - might rise to the level of bankruptcy fraud.

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How Do I Prepare for Bankruptcy?

It may be helpful to take these steps to prepare for filing for bankruptcy, whether you're working with a bankruptcy attorney or filing on your own online.

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Should I File For Bankruptcy or Try Debt Relief?

When a person cannot pay his or her debts, creditors can become extremely demanding in their attempts to collect debts. In some cases, debt collectors may harass individuals for payment of debts. However, if you do not have any money left over each month to pay your bills, you cannot manage to pay the debt regardless of what a debt collector tells you.

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Can Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosure?

Filing bankruptcy can help you stop foreclosures, so that you can stay in your home.

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Should I File for Bankruptcy after a Foreclosure?

Many people consider filing for bankruptcy after their homes are foreclosed. Bankruptcy can get rid of any remaining debt once you sell your home.

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Top 10 Reasons We’re Building Upsolve

Upsolve provides free bankruptcy attorneys to low-income Americans in 47 states. Here are the reasons that we exist.

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How Do I Find an Affordable Bankruptcy Attorney?

Are you searching for an affordable bankruptcy attorney but having trouble finding an attorney you can afford? If so, Upsolve may be able to help. We assist users who cannot afford an attorney file for debt relief under Chapter 7.

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Is It Bad To File For Bankruptcy?

Many people asking themselves, "Should I file for bankruptcy?" also wonder, "Is it bad to file for bankruptcy?" If you're in lots of debt, the answer is usually no.

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Legal Aid Bankruptcy Resources in New York City

Free legal aid nonprofits provide pro bono assistance to people who cannot afford bankruptcy attorneys. See if there's a legal aid nonprofit in New York City that can help you.

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How Can You Eliminate Tax Debt to the IRS with Bankruptcy?

You may be able to eliminate debt that you owe to the IRS for taxes by filing for bankruptcy. Learn how filing for bankruptcy can help with your tax debt.

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How to File Bankruptcy in 2020 for Free: A 10-Step Guide

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an important debt relief tool for Americans in severe financial distress from losing a job, getting injured, or getting divorced. Upsolve walks you through the steps on how to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and get your fresh start in 10 steps.

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Will Bankruptcy Stop Wage Garnishment?

Wage garnishment is a tool used by creditors to collect their debts through the court. Filing for bankruptcy will not only temporarily solve your wage garnishment problems, but potentially eradicate them altogether.

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Can bankruptcy help with payday loans?

Filing for Chapter 7 triggers the Automatic Stay which prevents the payday loan company from trying to collect the debt. If it is later discharged, you are no longer obligated to pay it back.

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What are the California Bankruptcy Exemptions?

If you're a debtor filing for bankruptcy and you live in California, you'll be using the California bankruptcy exemptions to keep your property.

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How to Find a Credit Repair Lawyer?

A credit lawyer can help you repair your credit score by correcting mistakes and errors on your credit report. However, you can perform many of these steps yourself without an attorney. If you need to file for bankruptcy relief without an attorney, Upsolve can provide guidance

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Finding Bankruptcy Paperwork for your Chapter 7 Case

Filing for bankruptcy can be complicated. This article gives tips on how to find the right paperwork to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What is a Debt Collection Attorney?

If you are having trouble finding a debt collection attorney to help you with a lawsuit, you might want to consider filing for bankruptcy relief. You can file bankruptcy without an attorney to get rid of debts. Visit Upsolve to find out more about filing bankruptcy without an attorney.

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What Is an Automatic Stay In Bankruptcy?

The automatic stay stops the people and companies that you owe from trying to get their money. In most cases, the automatic stay goes into effect as soon as you file your paperwork.

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Can I Get a Job, Housing, and Benefits if I File For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Many people feel that the consequences of bankruptcy will extend to their life, work and income. However, the vast majority will keep their day-to-day lives intact without issue.

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Will bankruptcy stop a levy?

If creditors are threatening to levy your bank account, you may be worried about how you are going to pay your bills and living expenses if a creditor takes your money. Let’s go over some important information about levies and ways you can stop a levy.

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5 Tips to Avoid Bankruptcy Dismissal

Avoid a Chapter 7 bankruptcy dismissal so that you can discharge all of your debts by following these directions.

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Do I Need Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation does not erase debt, but it can be helpful in reducing your interest rate on debt you owe.

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What is some research on the benefits of bankruptcy?

If you’re interested in the research around how bankruptcy helps low-income Americans, here are seven articles you should reach. The articles discuss how bankruptcy improves credit scores, employment outcomes, and future earnings. They also mention how bankruptcy stops wage garnishment and serves as a lifeline for people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

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What is some research on the benefits of bankruptcy?

If you’re interested in the research around how bankruptcy helps low-income Americans, here are seven articles you should reach. The articles discuss how bankruptcy improves credit scores, employment outcomes, and future earnings. They also mention how bankruptcy stops wage garnishment and serves as a lifeline for people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

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I'm filing for bankruptcy. Will I have to go to court?

Most people who file for bankruptcy on their own only need to show up to court twice. The first time is when they file their forms with the bankruptcy court. This just involves walking into the court and giving the bankruptcy forms you have filled out to the clerk’s office.

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6 Things about the Automatic Stay Everyone Filing Bankruptcy Should Know

11 U.S.C. § 362 is the technical name of the section of the bankruptcy law that protects all filers from creditor actions while their case is pending. You may have heard of this referred to as the automatic stay. Let’s take a deep dive into how 11 U.S.C. § 362 protects bankruptcy filers, what you can do if a creditor violates the automatic stay and what exceptions to the automatic stay protections you should be aware of before filing your bankruptcy case.

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Does this cost money?

No. Upsolve is totally free. 

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How Can I Stop Florida Wage Garnishment with Bankruptcy?

Wage garnishment can be stressful and hurt your ability to recover from financial shocks. In Florida, there are laws that may be able to help you protect your income.

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How To Deal With The Stress Of Bankruptcy

The stress leading up to bankruptcy can often be overwhelming and difficult to mange. Many people struggle with the emotional toll of being in a lot of debt. Luckily, you’re not alone and bankruptcy is a great way to get relief after difficult times.

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Can the trustee seize money that I received after I filed?

Whether the trustee can take money you receive after filing your case depends on whether you were entitled to the money at the time your case was filed and how it was listed on your forms, if at all.

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I am being sued by a creditor and I have an upcoming court date. What should I do?

It depends on how soon the court date is, and where you are in the process of getting ready to file your bankruptcy case. If your bankruptcy case hasn’t been filed by the court date, make sure you attend the hearing. Otherwise, the judge can potentially grant a default judgment against you simply because you didn’t show up. 

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How do I file my bankruptcy forms by mail?

We recommend bringing your bankruptcy forms to your local bankruptcy court to file in person. If you can't do that, you can mail the forms. 

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I might be moving to a new state. Should I wait to file until after I move?

If you plan to move out of state within the next three months, it is usually better to wait to file unless your 341 meeting would occur before your move.

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I'm on SSI. How much does bankruptcy cost?

If the only income you get each month is from SSI, bankruptcy is 100% free for you to file. Upsolve is totally free for you to use, and the court does not charge you any money for the filing fee. 

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Bankruptcy Filings in America - 2017

Bankruptcy Filings in America continue to be an effective way for many people to obtain debt relief. Congress enacted the to allow Americans to file for bankruptcy relief. help people who have suffered a financial crisis that they cannot overcome without assistance. Upsolve helps individuals file bankruptcy cases to resolve their debt problems. You can file a bankruptcy case to obtain the debt relief you need.

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What if I'm afraid to file for bankruptcy?

Many people in the United States are afraid to file for bankruptcy because they do not understand that most people who file are financially better off in the long run. After filing, most people see their debt erased and their credit scores improved. If their wages are garnished due to judgments, bankruptcy stops wage garnishment. Bankruptcy also improves employment outcomes.

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Can Upsolve help me file for an adversary proceeding?

*__Unfortunately, No__*. Upsolve can help debtors file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy but we are unable to help debtors with adversary proceedings or other related filings.

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Will we have to pay a lawyer?

No. If you use Upsolve, you will not have to pay any lawyer anything to file for bankruptcy. 

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I already took my credit counseling course.

That's great! Just upload your certificate when we ask for it after the questionnaire.

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Is Upsolve my lawyer?

Upsolve is not your lawyer. A lawyer will review your case to make sure that it's ready to be filed with the court. But this lawyer is not technically "your lawyer" in the eyes of the court. You are filing for bankruptcy on your own. 

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Can I file bankruptcy with my spouse through Upsolve?

Unfortunately, due to limitations in our software, Upsolve cannot assist couples with a joint filing. But, you can use Upsolve to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without your spouse.

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Is Upsolve a petition preparer?

No. Upsolve is a non-profit that provides a free self-service software tool for low-income Americans filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy without an attorney. Upsolve is not a bankruptcy petition preparer.

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Do you do Chapter 13?

No, Upsolve does not do Chapter 13 bankruptcies. 

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Do you do things other than bankruptcy?

No. Upsolve does not assist with anything other than Chapter 7 bankruptcy. 

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Can you help me if I'm not computer literate?

Unfortunately, we cannot help you if you're not computer literate. Please try going to your local legal aid. 

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Do I meet with an attorney?

No. Upsolve is a free online self-service software tool for people to file bankruptcy on their own.

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Is Upsolve free?

Yes, Upsolve is 100% free to use. We're a nonprofit funded by the government and charities.

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Do you handle adversarial proceedings?

If you use Upsolve to file your bankruptcy and you need help in an adversarial proceeding, we will do our best to find you a pro bono attorney to help you.

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Can I meet the Upsolve team in person?

We have thousands of debtors who rely on us each year. For this reason, we only provide email support.

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What is a Consumer Protection Attorney?

A consumer protection attorney may help you protect your rights under one or many consumer protection laws. If you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, we can help you file your case if you cannot afford to hire an attorney to help you file for bankruptcy relief.

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Should file my taxes after my 341 Meeting?

*__It doesn't matter if you file before or after your 341 Meeting.__* The trustee is able to seize any non-exempt money that you were entitled to receive before you filed, and you were entitled to receive this refund (or at least a portion of it) based on what you paid in taxes for the whole year prior to filing.

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Should I estimate my income if I haven't filed taxes yet?

If you do not have official documents, it is OK to estimate your gross income. If you do not feel comfortable estimating you can look at your most recent pay statement and use it to find your gross (before taxes) income year to date.

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Can I request a tax transcript from the IRS?

Yes. You can order your tax transcript if you do not have it by going to the [IRS website](https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript "irs website"). 

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How much of my income can be garnished?

If a creditor is garnishing your wages for a judgment they have against you, then federal law says that the creditor can take no more than 25% of your disposable income, or the amount you earn that is greater than 30 times the federal minimum wage, whichever is less. 

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Does bankruptcy help with wage garnishment?

In many cases, yes. If you were sued for your credit card or medical debt, and your wages are being garnished as a result of this lawsuit, then bankruptcy can stop wage garnishment. The same may apply to older tax debts. 

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What happens to my automatic stay if my case is dismissed?

*__The automatic stay will not go back into effect until the judge grants your motion to re-instate the case.__*

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What does it mean to be "judgment proof?"

Being "judgment proof" means that you do not have anything for a creditor to collect if they sue you and win. As you can imagine, this means that they are not likely to sue you. It does not mean that they can't sue you, just that they probably won't be able to collect if they do decide to take you to court.

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If my spouse and I have joint debt, do I have to list them on my forms?

Yes, you do. You will list them as "someone who is legally obligated to pay your debts."

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My credit is really bad. Will bankruptcy help?

The vast majority of people who have low credit scores see their credit scores increase post-bankruptcy. For academic research on this subject, check out [this study](https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/staff_reports/sr725.pdf "this study"). 

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I just took out pay day loans. Should I wait 90 days to file?

It is a good idea to wait at least 90 days to file after taking out payday loans or making any substantial purchases. This is because these types of transactions can make a trustee or judge suspicious and less likely to approve your bankruptcy. It looks like you are "cheating" - wracking up debt knowing that you could just get rid of it in bankruptcy right after.

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How can I get free legal aid help?

If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is a good chance that you cannot afford an attorney to help you through the process. Attorneys are a great investment for people who can afford them, as they’re constantly available to answer questions and it is usually pretty easy to find an attorney who can take your case right away if you’re willing to pay them for it.

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Will Chapter 7 bankruptcy lower my credit score?

According to the New York Federal Reserve, the credit scores of those who file for bankruptcy are higher than people in the same shoes who don't.

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What happens if I paid someone back in the year before bankruptcy?

First of all, kudos for being the kind of person who honors their debts and cares about maintaining relationships! When you are struggling with your finances, it can be difficult to pay the money you owe -- especially when you feel like you have to choose between paying back credit card companies and paying back the people you love.

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Should I list the original credit card, or the debt collection agency?

When you're listing the companies that you owe money to, you should list current owner of the debt. So if a debt collection agency bought your debt from the original credit card you owe money to, you should list the debt collection agency. 

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On my bankruptcy forms, should I list debts that appear on my credit report but I don't owe?

You should list debts on your bankruptcy forms that are on your credit report even if you don't think you owe them.

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Do I need to list all of my creditors?

You should try to do your best to list all of the companies you owe money to on your bankruptcy forms.

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How to redeem your car?

Redeeming your car debt in bankruptcy can make sense if the car is worth much less than the amount you owe on your car loan. Redemption allows you to pay the lender the value of the car, rather than the larger amount you owe.  

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Do I own my vehicle? What percentage of it do I own?

Whether or not you own your vehicle depends on whether you purchased it using a loan or leased it from a dealer or other agency.

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If I surrender my vehicle, will I be responsible for any balance owed?

No. Even if the car is sold for much less than what you owe on the loan, your personal liability to pay the loan is discharged.

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Will I get to keep my property during my bankruptcy?

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court lets you keep your property up until a certain amount. One of the biggest misconceptions of bankruptcy is that you will lose everything you own. That’s not true.

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What happens in bankruptcy if I have a potential lawsuit for money?

This depends on whether you are suing someone else, or whether someone is suing you.

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Can I Keep My Property If I File for Bankruptcy?

One of the most common questions we get is: “Can I keep my property if I file for bankruptcy?” The answer is usually yes! 96% of Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases result in the filer keeping all their property. But protecting your property requires some knowledge. Read on for more details. 

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Does a laptop count as a household good?

No. Include your laptop in when the questionnaire asks you about the electronics that you own. 

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What is Community Property?

Property owned by a married couple is always one of two types - Marital or Separate. Generally, marital property is anything that you earned or acquired while married unless you and your spouse agreed otherwise. Separate property varies from state to state.

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How do I know if my fee is waived?

For the $335 court fee, you'll get a notice in the mail that tells you if your fee is waived.

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How Will Chapter 7 Affect My Employment?

You cannot be fired simply because you filed for bankruptcy. In fact, employers usually don’t learn about it and it is illegal for an employer to discriminate based on your past filing history.

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When is the trustee meeting, also called my 341 meeting?

Your trustee meeting will take place between 21 and 40 days after you file for bankruptcy. 

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What to do if a creditor is harassing me after my discharge?

Creditors are not allowed to do this unless the judge told them that they could at some point during your bankruptcy process. Check the "Notice of Discharge" that you received at the end of your bankruptcy process.

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Do I have to pay the $335 filing fee?

You generally have to pay the fee if you earn above 150% of the poverty line for your state, and you generally don't have to pay the fee if you earn below 150% of the poverty line.

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Will my family, who I live with for free, learn about my bankruptcy?

Probably not. In general, family members are not notified of your bankruptcy unless (1) you owe them money, (2) they are jointly liable for one of your debts, or (3) you have a continuing contract or lease with them.

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If I'm a widow, do I need to list my deceased spouse on my forms?

If your former spouse earned taxable income in the current year or the two years prior, you will need to list that income on your bankruptcy forms. You do not need to list any income that they earned prior to this time period, and __*you do not need to list them as a member of your household.*__

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Where can I find my case number?

You can find your case number on your paperwork that you get back from the court after you file for bankruptcy. 

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.

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