Colorado Bankruptcy

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Written by Andrea Wimmer, Esq..  
Updated April 6, 2020


While it's not for everyone, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado for free if you file without an attorney ("pro se") and qualify for a fee waiver. The court filing fee of $335, normally due from everyone filing Chapter 7 in Colorado, can be waived if your income is below a certain threshold and you are unable to pay it in installments.

Colorado has one of the strongest economies in the nation and higher than average income, making it a great place to be if your income is in line with the cost of living. If your income is not enough to make ends meet every month because you are paying most of it to your creditors, without ever getting ahead, the protections offered by the Bankruptcy Code may be the way for you to get back on track. Bankruptcy protects people from their creditors, albeit in different ways depending on which type (or "chapter") of bankruptcy they file. Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado allows people who lack the means to make any meaningful headway in paying down their debts to get a fresh start. Rick Upchurch was able to get Chapter 7 relief after his business fell apart during the 1982 player's strike. Similarly, after the tides turned and former Denver Bronco Clinton Portis found himself with more debt than he could handle, despite having despite having been the highest paid running back in NFL history as recently as 2004, he utilized Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize his finances. No two bankruptcies are alike and only you can tell whether filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado is the right path for you and reading guides such as this one is the perfect place to start reviewing your options.

How to File Bankruptcy in Colorado for Free

While it's not for everyone, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado for free if you file without an attorney ("pro se") and qualify for a fee waiver. The court filing fee of $335, normally due from everyone filing Chapter 7 in Colorado, can be waived if your income is below a certain threshold and you are unable to pay it in installments.

Collect Your Colorado Bankruptcy Documents

Getting organized early can help you feel more in control as you go through the process, as you will have the maximum amount of information available to you. Some of the documents you should collect when you are getting ready to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado will be used to complete your bankruptcy forms. After all, no one has all the details of their financial situation in their head; it makes sense to rely on the resources available to you to cull all of the information. One of the most useful documents for folks filing bankruptcy in Colorado is their credit report. The court expects you to provide a complete listing of all of your debts, and your credit report will be a great starting point to put that listing together. You should also cross-reference any recent debt collection letters you may have received to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. If you owe money to a hospital or doctor, they may not be reporting the balance to the credit bureau, so make sure to ask their billing department for an updated invoice from all the providers that billed you. This will help you ensure that all of your creditors are notified by the court after your case is filed. Filing bankruptcy in Colorado also means providing a copy of your most recent federal income tax return to your case trustee. Finally, in order to make sure your income is properly calculated, you should get a copy of every paycheck stub you have received in the last 6 months.

Take Credit Counseling

In order to make sure that you understand all the options available to them, everyone filing bankruptcy in Colorado has to take a credit counseling course before they can do so. This course is a single session that takes about 2 hours to complete and results in a certificate of completion that has to be filed with the court in your Colorado bankruptcy. The United States Trustee publishes a listing of every company that is approved to offer this course to people filing Chapter 7 in Colorado. Most people who are in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado took the course online or over the phone. There is one provider who offers the course in person, but if you're not near the Highlands Ranch area it may not make sense to make the trip. The costs for this course vary, though you should be able to find options well below $50. When done, the certificate is valid for Colorado bankruptcy cases filed within 180 days from the date the course was completed.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

Your bankruptcy forms tell the court and your trustee what they need to know about your situation. Making sure that you get it right, by disclosing everything that has to be disclosed, will go a long way towards helping your case progress more smoothly. To facilitate this, the Colorado Bankruptcy Court has published a form packet that includes all the forms you need to complete when filing Chapter 7 in Colorado. If you hire a lawyer, their office will do the majority of the legwork related to inputting your information correctly. If you are unable to hire a lawyer, but worry that going through all of 85 pages of the packet is going to be a bit overwhelming, check your eligibility to file through Upsolve. If you are thinking about using a bankruptcy petition preparer, a non-attorney that essentially fills out the forms for you but cannot give you legal advice, make sure to check out this listing of so-called BPPs that are not allowed to assist folks filing bankruptcy in Colorado anymore. Although the bankruptcy court offers Pro Se Clinics to people thinking about filing bankruptcy in Colorado without an attorney, these clinics are not designed to help you complete the forms.

Get Your Filing Fee

You will be expected to pay the $335 court filing fee at the time you file the petition documents for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado. That's why it doesn't make any sense to even go to the courthouse to hand in your paperwork, if you don't have a game plan on how to handle the court filing fee. If you are able to pay the full fee, you may do so in cash. Keep in mind, though, that the court won't be able to make change so be sure to bring the exact amount needed when filing Chapter 7 in Colorado. You may also pay this fee via money order or cashier's check. If you need to file your case before you are able to collect all the money, you can apply to pay the court filing fee in installments, with the first $125 payment coming due 14 days after the paperwork for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado is filed with the court. Finally, if you can't pay the fee even if the court were to give you some extra time, and your income is below 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, bring this application to have our court filing fee waived with you when you go to the courthouse to file your case.

Try not to print your forms until you are ready to head to the courthouse to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, as some of the information in your paperwork is time sensitive and might go stale if too much time passes. The very first thing you should print out is also the first page in the court's form package: A checklist telling you all the forms necessary when filing Chapter 7 in Colorado. This will help you stay on track and make sure you didn't miss anything, especially if you have the different forms saved as separate files on your computer. If you plan on filing bankruptcy in Colorado through the court's online filing system, you can use this checklist to make sure the final PDF you are submitting contains everything you need. If you are mailing your paperwork, or dropping it off in person, you will have to print a paper copy of everything. While it may feel wasteful not to, do not print your forms double-sided. Additionally, even though it's important to keep all of the documents organized and in order, you should not staple any of the pages together as that makes processing your paperwork harder on the court staff. The creditors' mailing matrix can be submitted to the clerk's office via email. Alternatively, you can manually enter the necessary information with this tool on the court's website.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

People filing bankruptcy in Colorado have a few options on how to actually submit their paperwork to court, even when they don't have an attorney. First, you can visit the courthouse and file all your paperwork in person. Unfortunately, the courthouse is located in Denver, which makes it an inconvenient place to go for anyone not in the Denver metro area. Of course, regardless of where you live, you can file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado by mailing all of the necessary documents to the court. Recognizing that the delay that is inherent in using the postal service can seriously impact a person's ability to get the relief they need right away; the Colorado Bankruptcy Court has developed a separate online filing system called I-File people filing pro se (without a lawyer). Filing Chapter 7 in Colorado through the I-File System allows you to transmit all the necessary documents to the court electronically without having to go through the complicated filing system that lawyers use.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

The trustee is the person that is handling your case to make sure all Colorado bankruptcy laws are followed and your creditors are treated fairly. A large part of what the trustee does is to verify the information folks filing chapter 7 in Colorado put in their bankruptcy paperwork to make sure no one is hiding anything. At minimum, you will have to send your most recent federal income tax return to your case trustee no later than one week before your 341 meeting takes place. The trustee that is randomly assigned to your case may also send you a request for other information, such as bank statements or paycheck stubs. Although the trustee does not work for you, you have a duty to cooperate in the administration of your case. This means making sure your trustee has everything they need to do their job with respect to your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

In order to get your discharge after filing Chapter 7 in Colorado, you have to take bankruptcy course 2. This course focuses on financial management and aims to provide you with some helpful tools for managing your finances going forward. While it is not really a hard deadline, most folks find it helpful to complete the course before their creditors meeting, so as to not forget later. If you do forget to take this course (or file your certificate of completion after taking it) the bankruptcy court may close your case without entering your discharge first. If that happens, you not only have to file a motion asking the court to reopen your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, but you also have to pay a new court filing fee. Even though the financial management course has a small cost associated with it, it's nowhere near as expensive as having to reopen your Colorado bankruptcy case would be. As before, it is very important to shop around for a provider that is approved to offer this post-bankruptcy financial management course to folks filing bankruptcy in Colorado.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

Everyone who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado has to attend what is called a 341 meeting or creditors' meeting about a month after their case is filed. Although the Colorado Bankruptcy Court is located in Denver, your 341 meeting will be scheduled at a location closer to where you live. You will be notified about your creditors meeting a few days after filing Chapter 7 in Colorado with a court notice like this. When you receive this notice, make sure you pay attention to the date, time and location of your creditors meeting, so you don't miss it. While you can take some steps to prepare for your 341 meeting, the most important part (other than actually showing up) is to remember to bring your picture ID and acceptable proof of your social security number. Once your case trustee has reviewed your IDs, you will be placed under oath and asked a series of questions that everyone filing Chapter 7 in Colorado has to answer. Even though creditors are allowed to attend these meetings and ask questions, that rarely happens. In fact, since multiple Colorado bankruptcy cases are scheduled for the same half hour time slot, these meetings typically last no more than 5 - 10 minutes.

Dealing with Your Car

Your vehicle, whether that is a car, truck, SUV, or bicycle, plays two roles in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado. First of all, it is an asset that, if left unprotected (not claimed as exempt on your Schedule C), will be sold by the trustee for the benefit of your creditors. Since most people need at least one vehicle to get around, applicable Colorado bankruptcy laws allow you to protect up to two motor vehicles (or bicycles) with a combined value of no more than $7,500 (or $12,500 if you or your dependent are elderly or disabled). Of course, if you are you still making payments on your car, exemptions are needed only to the extent that you have equity in your vehicle. If you don’t, and the loan balance is much greater than the value of the vehicle itself, you may want to consider surrendering this upside down asset. If it makes sense to keep the car after filing bankruptcy in Colorado, you can do so by either entering into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender, or by redeeming the vehicle for its current value. Either way, filing Chapter 7 in Colorado gives you options to deal with your vehicle in a way that makes the most sense for you and your family.

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Colorado Bankruptcy Means Test

The Colorado bankruptcy means test is the calculation that helps the court make sure that only folks who really need relief under Chapter 7 can actually file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado. It first compares your household income with the applicable income limits for Colorado. If you make less than the median household income for a household of your size, you pass the means test. If you make more money than that, you may nevertheless qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado if part two of the Colorado bankruptcy means test determines that, given your specific circumstances, you are unable to pay even a portion of your debts over the next five years.

Data on Median income levels for Colorado

Colorado Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Data on Poverty levels for Colorado

Colorado Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)
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Colorado Bankruptcy Forms

All Colorado Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms are available, for free, as a single 85-page packet on the court's website. You can also obtain fillable pdf copies of all national forms, complete with a set of instructions, for free online. If you are not relying on the court's filing packet, instead using the national form bank for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, make sure you use this use local form when filing your paycheck stubs with the court.

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District of Colorado Requirements

Those filing a Colorado bankruptcy without an attorney are required to provide the court with the name and mailing address of all of their creditors in a very specific format, explained here. In addition, the local rules require that you file a detailed notice about the changes you are making if you are amending the initial paperwork filed in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado. If you are unsure about any of the filing requirements for your Colorado bankruptcy, you can contact the court to learn more, but remember, court staff cannot give you any legal advice or help you fill out your forms.

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Colorado Bankruptcy Exemptions

When you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, the applicable exemptions protect certain property you own from being sold by the trustee for the benefit of your creditors. Unlike some states, Colorado bankruptcy laws require everyone to use Colorado bankruptcy exemptions instead of the exemptions outlined in the Bankruptcy Code. The available exemptions include a homestead exemption for up to $75,000 (or $105,000, if the home is occupied by an elderly or disabled owner or dependent of the owner) and protections for personal property, capped at varying amounts, for items such as furniture, clothes, jewelry, and provisions. If you are having a hard time matching your assets to the Colorado bankruptcy exemptions, you should consider talking to a lawyer to make sure you are as protected as you can be.

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Colorado Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost

If you prefer to hire a lawyer for your Colorado bankruptcy, you should make an appointment for a free consultation with some law firms in your area to find out the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer for a case like yours. On average, Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado costs approximately $900 in legal fees. Keep in mind, however, that every case is different so you won't know how much your Colorado bankruptcy will cost until you speak to a lawyer about it.

  • Attorney cost estimate: $599 – $1,200

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Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado can be a stressful process in the best of circumstances, and while some folks have little problem navigating the bankruptcy system without a lawyer ("pro se"), you may not feel up to the task. If you can't afford a lawyer, you should check if you qualify for Colorado legal aid instead. Legal aid in Colorado includes organizations throughout the state that assist low-income folks deal with non-criminal legal issues, including Colorado bankruptcy cases.

Colorado Legal Services
(303) 866-9399
1905 Sherman Street, Suite 400, Denver, CO 80203

Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Upsolve Location
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Colorado Court Locations

United States Custom House
721 19th Street Denver, CO 80202

United States Custom House
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Colorado Judges

Colorado Bankruptcy Judges
DistrictJudge Name
District of ColoradoHon. Michael E. Romero
District of ColoradoHon. Elizabeth E. Brown
District of ColoradoHon. Thomas B. McNamara
District of ColoradoHon. Cathleen D. Parker
District of ColoradoHon. Joseph G. Rosania
District of ColoradoHon. Kimberley H. Tyson
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Colorado Trustees

Colorado Trustees
TrusteeContact Info
Robertson B.
(303) 933-4529
Tom H.
(303) 661-9292
Daniel A.
(303) 444-5141
Jeffrey L.
(303) 805-1478
Jeanne Yendrek
(303) 798-1255
Dennis W.
Kevin P.
(719) 545-1153
David E.
(303) 666-1217
Joli A.
(303) 661-9292
Lynn T. Martinez
(719) 542-6707
M. Stephen
(303) 422-8501
Simon E.
(303) 969-9100
(303) 454-0525
John C.
(303) 454-0508
David V. Wadsworth,
(303) 296-1999
Jared C.
(970) 456-3395
Jeffrey A. Weinman
(303) 572-1010
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About the author

Andrea Wimmer, Esq.

Andrea practiced exclusively as debtors’ counsel in consumer chapter 7 and 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team full time in August 2019. While in private practice, Andrea handled all ban... read more

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