Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz.
Updated October 15, 2020
Filing for bankruptcy in the River City is not as scary as you think. When most people think of filing bankruptcy in Grand Junction, they think of their credit being destroyed and the negative effect it will have on being able to obtain credit cards and loans in the future. But, that is the furthest thing from reality. Believe it or not, bankruptcy is a means to a fresh start. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows low-income individuals with mostly medical and credit card debt to discharge their debt, which means they no longer have to pay it back. Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows those with higher income to discharge some of their debts and pay the remainder back over time. Filing for bankruptcy simply leaves a mark on your credit report. You will be able to rebuild your credit from scratch, and apply for loans or other financial assistance. In fact, as soon as you receive your discharge, you can start rebuilding your credit via secured credit cards, kind of like how you started building your credit in the first place.
If you are considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy, know that this process will generally take four to six months to complete. The most challenging part of the process is filling out the bankruptcy forms. But note that the Court has tried to automate the process as much as possible by making the bankruptcy forms available for free, online. The nearest Bankruptcy Court is located in Denver. However, when you attend your 341 meeting, typically the one and only court appearance you will have in your case, you will go to the Mesa County Courthouse in Grand Junction. If you are interested in filing bankruptcy in Grand Junction, this guide will walk you through the steps you need to go through to become debt free. Read on and become empowered to take on your debt, on your own or with help from a legal aid organization near you.
Grand Junction Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Although you can totally manage filing bankruptcy in Grand Junction on your own, sometimes help from a professional doesn’t hurt. Bankruptcy attorneys are seasoned professionals that can assist you in filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Familiar with the forms, processes, Trustees and judges, bankruptcy attorneys are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to bankruptcy law and practice. Your attorney, who typically will not charge for your first meeting, will assess your financial situation and make a recommendation as to what type of bankruptcy you should file. Once that question is answered, your attorney will walk you through each step of the bankruptcy process up and through your discharge. A bankruptcy lawyer in Grand Junction costs $599 – $1,200. If your situation is not that simple, or you’re worried about losing a certain asset, a bankruptcy lawyer will likely prove to be a good investment.
How to File Bankruptcy in Grand Junction, Colorado for Free
The most challenging part of filing bankruptcy in Grand Junction is filling out the bankruptcy forms. Once you have overcome the initial hurdle, expect to file your forms with the Court and attend your 341 meeting. When you have been approved for discharge, you can celebrate at the Country Jam Ranch or one of Grand Junction’s famous local wineries.
Collect Your Grand Junction Bankruptcy Documents
To make the process of filling out your Grand Junction bankruptcy forms easier, you can assemble these documents beforehand: your paystubs, tax returns, and bank statements. These documents will come in handy when filling out the bankruptcy forms and will be later submitted to the Trustee after you have filed your case. If you don’t have your pay stubs, you can first get in touch with your human resources representative or employer to obtain copies. You may also consider contacting your employer’s payroll servicer if that information is available to you. If you don’t have your tax returns available to you, you can request a transcript from the IRS by mail or online. Finally, if you do not have online banking, now is as good a time as any to sign up. Having an ease of reference to your financial information will make filling out your forms much easier.
Take Credit Counseling
Before filing bankruptcy in Grand Junction, you will need to take the credit counseling course. The course is designed to educate you on the options available to you to deal with your debt, including bankruptcy. The one hour course you take has to be an approved course by the U.S. Trustee’s office. The course is given online or by telephone. Unfortunately, there is no in-person option to take this course in Grand Junction. Once you have completed the course you will receive a certificate of completion that will be filed with the Colorado Bankruptcy Court along with your bankruptcy forms.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
The most time consuming task of your Grand Junction bankruptcy will be filing out the bankruptcy forms. Here’s what you can expect to do: disclose everything. This is not meant to scare you, but the biggest mistake that people make on their bankruptcy forms is failing to disclose pertinent information. Pertinent information includes but is not limited to: all your jobs (including part time jobs or jobs you only worked at for a short time), any inheritances you might be expecting, all your property (pets, antique collections, etc.). Being over inclusive will not hurt you here. And as mentioned above, gathering all your financial documents, including a recent copy of your credit report beforehand will make this process a lot smoother.
Get Your Filing Fee
The filing fee for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Grand Junction is $335. You must be thinking, “ouch!” The silver lining is this, you do have options. The first is filing an application for a fee waiver. This application will ask you to supply information similar to what you supplied in the bankruptcy forms, such as your income and expenses. The application will be made at the same time you file your Colorado bankruptcy petition with the Court. After submission, your application will be reviewed and decided upon by a judge. The second option is filing an application to pay the fee in installments. This will alleviate the burden of paying the lump sum of $335. The information requested in the installment plan application is the same as the fee waiver application and will also be decided upon by a judge.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Once you have completed your Grand Junction bankruptcy forms, it’s time to print them and file them with the Court. You will need to print two copies: one for your records and one for filing with the Bankruptcy Court. If you don’t have a printer at home, consider using a friend or family member’s printer; if you can, bring some paper, as you’ll be printing more than 60 pages. If that is not an option for you, some local libraries offer printing services. Grand Junction public libraries charges $0.15 per page for printing services. The public library also has an option to checkout laptops as well. You may also consider using a printing service at Kinkos or Staples.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Now it’s time to make it official. Mailing your forms to the bankruptcy clerk is what gets your case on the docket and one step closer to discharge. You will mail your forms to the below address:
United States Bankruptcy Court
721 19th St.
Denver, CO 80202
When mailing your forms, it is best to mail them by certified mail with return receipt requested or by Fedex or UPS, so that you may track your package and confirm receipt by the Clerk. Alternatively, the Colorado Bankruptcy Court has an electronic filing system that non-attorneys can use so that you may file your forms online.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Before your 341 meeting, the Trustee will need to review some of your financial documents. Ten days before your 341 meeting, you will send the Trustee your pay stubs, tax returns, and your most recent bank statements. The Trustee will then review your documents in preparation for your meeting. The purpose of this is to ensure the accuracy of the information you are providing and to make sure that you are not abusing the bankruptcy system. It is the Trustee’s job to represent the Court and the bankruptcy system. In doing so, some of the Trustee’s other functions is to sell any eligible property to pay off debts and to recapture any funds paid to creditors after you filed your Grand Junction bankruptcy.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
After your Grand Junction bankruptcy is filed with the Court, you will need to take the financial management course. This course is designed to equip you with the tools you need after your discharge. This course is also approved by the U.S. Trustee Office and one hour in length. You have the option to take the course by phone or online as there is no in-person option available in Grand Junction. Upon completion, you will receive a certificate that will be submitted to the Court. Your discharge is conditional upon you submitting the completion certificate, so make sure that you get it to the Court!
Attend Your 341 Meeting
The 341 meeting is typically the only court appearance you will have in the Grand Junction bankruptcy case. In Grand Junction, 341 meetings are held here:
Mesa County Courthouse
Public Hearing Room
544 Rood Avenue
Grand Junction, Colorado 81502
As this is a courthouse, expect there to be some security, however restrictions may be looser as this is a county courthouse and not a federal one. You should dress business casual, avoiding any flashy jewelry or accessories. Please bring your driver’s license and original social security card so that the Trustee may verify your identity. Typically, the meeting lasts 10-15 minutes.
Dealing with Your Car
One of the most burning questions at the outset of any Grand Junction bankruptcy case is “what will happen to my car?” Well, there are a few options available to you. First, if you own your car, you can claim a state exemption to protect it. Skip down to the Colorado Exemptions portion of this guide to learn more about exemptions. Second, if you have a loan, you can reaffirm your loan or redeem your car. When you reaffirm your loan, you commit to continue to make payments with the condition that if you don’t, your lender can repossess the vehicle and hold you responsible for any unpaid balance left owing. When you redeem your car, you buy the car for the amount the car is worth, and discharge the balance remaining on the loan as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Grand Junction.
Colorado Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Grand Junction
Colorado Means Test
The Colorado bankruptcy Means Test is a safety measure adopted by Court to protect the bankruptcy system from abuse. Using your income, expenses, and debt, the test will determine if all those factors combined will allow you to pay back your debt over a period of time. The Court’s intent is to preserve Grand Junction bankruptcy for those who truly need it.
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
It is now more convenient than ever to fill out the Colorado bankruptcy forms. The Colorado Bankruptcy Court provides all the forms you need to file for Grand Junction bankruptcy for free, in fillable pdf format. Among other things, you will list all the people you owe in your bankruptcy forms. The form you will list all your creditors is called the Creditor Matrix. The Bankruptcy Court provides guidance on how to fill this form, and the other forms out on their website.
A big part of pre-bankruptcy planning is consideration of the Colorado bankruptcy exemptions. Exemptions allow you to protect your personal property and real estate (namely, your home) from being taken in your Grand Junction bankruptcy. In Colorado, you may only utilize state bankruptcy exemptions. In other states, you can use federal or state exemptions. Knowing what exemptions are available to you and how you want to use them are crucial items to consider before you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.