Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated August 17, 2020
Although it may not be advertised as such, bankruptcy is a powerful tool to help people in debt achieve a fresh start. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado Springs can be the answer you have been searching for. If you have too much credit card or medical debt, bankruptcy will allow you to erase it and start fresh. When you file for bankruptcy, your qualifying debts will get discharged, which means you will not have to pay them back. This will allow you to focus your energy on more important goals, like home ownership or finishing your degree!
There are two types of bankruptcies that people like you and me can take advantage of. First, there is Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is geared towards individuals with lower incomes that have debts that are “consumer” in nature, e.g. credit cards and medical debt. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is geared towards individuals who have the means to pay back some of their debt over a period of time.
If you think you fall into the category of people who would benefit from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then this guide is for you. First, you should know that the bankruptcy process is relatively quick compared to other legal matters. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes 4 to 6 months to complete. You will file your case in the Bankruptcy Court in Denver. The hardest part about bankruptcy is the preparation. To make the process smoother, you can start assembling necessary paperwork like your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns. You will need them when you fill out the bankruptcy forms. The best advice in filling out the forms is to be truthful and inclusive. There are a number of forms to fill out and it is easy to forget a part-time job you worked or an inheritance you received. But not to worry, this guide will help you navigate the bankruptcy process, help you find free resources in your area and instruct you on the steps you need to take to receive your discharge in the Olympic city. Following this guide is your first step toward achieving a debt free future.
Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Using this guide, you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado Springs for free. However, sometimes our case can get a little complicated and we can use the help of a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney is a great investment as they are familiar with the bankruptcy laws in your state and can help you navigate the tougher issues in your case. Bankruptcy attorneys are well-versed in the bankruptcy forms and have most likely drafted these forms for clients in the past. Bankruptcy lawyers are also familiar with the trustees, judges, and the bankruptcy clerk and know what each expect in terms of the forms and procedure. A Colorado Springs bankruptcy lawyer will cost you between $599 – $1,200 for a typical Chapter 7 case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Colorado Springs, Colorado for Free
The Colorado Springs bankruptcy process will take you 4 to 6 months to complete, and if timed correctly, just in time for the area’s 300 days of sunshine. In addition to completing the bankruptcy forms, you will need to take educational courses to educate yourself on dealing with your debt and practicing healthy financial habits. Finally, you will be eligible for discharge once your case has been reviewed by the trustee and your 341 meeting has taken place.
Collect Your Colorado Springs Bankruptcy Documents
In order to file for Colorado Springs bankruptcy, you will need the following documents: pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns. Having your monthly bills handy is also helpful. If you can’t locate your pay stubs, we recommend getting in touch with your human resources department so that you may obtain a copy. You may also consider reaching out to your employer’s payroll servicer. Often, you can now retrieve your pay stubs online. If you don’t have your tax returns, you can request copies online or by mail on the IRS website. Finally, consider downloading copies of your bank statements and either printing or saving them in a secure location on your computer. You will need these documents to fill out your bankruptcy forms and will likely have to submit them to the Trustee after filing bankruptcy in Colorado Springs.
Take Credit Counseling
The credit counseling course is a pre-filing requirement required of all those who want to receive a discharge through bankruptcy. The purpose of the course is to educate you on what your options are to deal with your debt, including the different types of bankruptcy. This course must be completed 180 days before filing your Colorado Springs bankruptcy. This approved course is approximately one hour. You may take the course in-person, over the telephone, or online. Unfortunately, there is no in-person option in the Colorado Springs area. Once you have completed the course, you will receive a certificate of completion which you will file with your bankruptcy forms.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The bankruptcy forms are an illustration of your financial situation. You will be painting a picture of what you’re going through for the trustee and the court. You will explain in detail the amount and nature of your debts, your income and your expenses. You will also list in detail all of the property you own (including your dog or other family pet!). The best way to prepare for filling out the forms is to gather the bankruptcy documents mentioned above: paystubs, bank statements, and tax returns. These documents contain the necessary information you need to fill out the Colorado Springs bankruptcy forms. The most common mistakes people make when filling out the forms is forgetting important information. Even though you may have worked a job for only 2 weeks, that income must be included in your bankruptcy forms. The rule of thumb is: no detail is too little not to matter. When filing bankruptcy in Colorado Springs, it’s better to be overly inclusive.
Get Your Filing Fee
The fee to file your Colorado Springs bankruptcy is $335. Now, this fee may seem a little steep, especially when you are facing financial hardship. There are two options to deal with the fee if that’s the case. One is to apply for a fee waiver. In the application, you will supply the court with information regarding your income and expenses and a judge will decide if you qualify for a fee waiver. If a judge decides you do not qualify for a fee waiver, they may propose an installment plan, so that you may pay the filing fee in installments. You also have the option to make an application to the court requesting to pay in installments after your Colorado bankruptcy has been filed.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have reviewed your Colorado Springs bankruptcy forms, it’s time to print and file them with the Court. You will need two versions: one for submission to the Court and one for your records. If you don’t have a printer at home consider: 1) printing at a friend or family member’s house, 2) print at a Staples or Kinkos, or 3) print at a local library (if printing is available). The Colorado Springs area is home to a host of local libraries that you can check out, maybe that’s why it was voted the 5th best place to live in the U.S. When you are printing, keep in mind that you should never print double-sided.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Filing your Colorado Springs bankruptcy forms is what makes the bankruptcy official in the eyes of the court. Once you are satisfied with your printed forms, you will go to the Court located at 721 19th St. in Denver. More specifically, you will go to the bankruptcy clerk’s office to file your bankruptcy forms. When visiting the federal courthouse, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, this is a secure government building. You will be required to go through metal detectors and are subject to search by federal marshals. Second, electronic devices are not permitted. It’s best to keep your cell phone in the car. Third, the Court is not open weekends or federal holidays. Be sure to plan ahead, so that you don’t have to make a second trip to the courthouse. The biggest advantage of filing your forms in person is that the bankruptcy clerk will be able to review your forms for missing pages or signatures.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you have filed your Colorado Springs bankruptcy forms with the court, you will have to submit certain documents to the trustee. The trustee is a court-appointed representative assigned to your case. Trustees are in charge of reviewing your bankruptcy forms and accompanying documents for accuracy. They will raise any issues with those you owe to secure payments you made after bankruptcy. They will also be responsible for selling any eligible property to pay your debts. At least 10 days before your 341 meeting, you will need to send the Trustee your pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns for the last two years. The Trustee will review your documents to prepare to ask you any questions about your Colorado bankruptcy case at the 341 meeting.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In order to receive a discharge in your Colorado Springs bankruptcy, you must complete the financial management course. This course will teach you healthy financial practices to use after filing bankruptcy in Colorado Springs. Like the credit counseling course, this course must be approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office in order to count. It’s approximately one hour long and also given in-person, online, or over the telephone. The remote options may be best as there are no in-person options available in the Colorado Springs area. This course will help you avoid pitfalls, employ healthy financial practices and prepare for a future free of debt.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is typically the only court appearance you will make in your Colorado Springs bankruptcy. Here, you will meet with the Chapter 7 trustee to review your case. The trustee will ask you questions about your forms or the documents you submitted to him. The 341 meeting is typically in the same courthouse you filed your bankruptcy forms in unless otherwise designated. You should bring your driver’s license and social security card as a means of identification. It is recommended that you dress business casual for this meeting. The meeting typically lasts 10-15 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
When filing bankruptcy in Colorado Springs, the most common question is “what will happen to my car?” Nowadays, our car is our most important possession as we use it to get everywhere we need to go: work, school, doctor’s appointments, etc. The good news is, you don’t have to give up your car. If you own your car, you can protect it using the available state or federal exemptions. If you lease your car, you can either reaffirm or redeem your car. Reaffirmation will work for you if you want to continue making payments on your lease or loan. Redemption will work for you if your car is worth less than what you owe on it and you want to buy it for its actual value.
Colorado Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Colorado Springs
Colorado Means Test
The Colorado bankruptcy means test prevents abuse of the bankruptcy system. Using your income as a gauge, the Means Test compares your income according to your family size weighed against your expenses and your debt. When filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado Springs, consideration of the Means Test at the outset of your case is crucial.
Median Income Levels for Colorado
Colorado Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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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.
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Colorado Bankruptcy Forms
The Colorado bankruptcy forms are available to your for free on the Bankruptcy Court’s website. Be sure to also confirm whether any local forms apply to you by reviewing the checklist provided in this forms package for Chapter 7 cases. The key to filling out the Colorado Springs bankruptcy forms is having your documents handy (pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns) and being as inclusive as possible.
The purpose of the Colorado bankruptcy exemptions is to allow you to live with dignity before, after, and during the Colorado Springs bankruptcy process. Be aware that Colorado does not subscribe to the federal bankruptcy exemptions, so careful examination of the state exemptions before filing bankruptcy will help you protect your most valued possessions.