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How To File Bankruptcy for Free in Connecticut

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In a Nutshell

Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary and confusing. We provide helpful tips and resources to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state without a lawyer.

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 19, 2024

There are plenty of great things about living in the Constitution State, but the high cost of living isn’t one of them. It’s hard to enjoy Connecticut’s beautiful fall foliage or sparkling coastline when you’re constantly worrying about how you’ll pay this month’s bills. If debt is keeping you up at night, it can help to know you have choices. 

Researching Connecticut’s bankruptcy laws and other debt-relief options is a smart way to start your journey to financial freedom — a journey that could be shorter than you think. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can give you a fresh start by wiping out most of your debts, often within a few months. Even if you can’t afford a bankruptcy lawyer, you can still file bankruptcy in Connecticut yourself for free.

How To File Bankruptcy for Free in Connecticut 

Filing bankruptcy can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. You can eliminate the biggest bankruptcy cost — attorney fees — by preparing your documents and filing your bankruptcy yourself. This guide covers what you’ll need to file bankruptcy in the Old Line state and what to expect from each step of the process.

Collect Your Connecticut Bankruptcy Documents

Whether you’re planning to hire a lawyer, use Upsolve’s free filing tool, or prepare your bankruptcy on your own, your first step is to gather the documents you’ll need. Your bankruptcy forms are how you explain your financial situation to the bankruptcy court. In these forms, you must list all your debts, including the balance and the creditor’s name and contact information. You must also provide information about your income and living expenses. The following documents contain much of the necessary information:

  • Account statements, bills, collection letters, or documents from debt collection lawsuits.

  • A recent credit report from one or more of the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion). If you’re using Upsolve’s free tool, Upsolve will get a credit report for you.

  • Bank statements for all your checking and savings accounts for the past six months or more.

  • Paycheck stubs or a printout from your employer showing your gross pay and anything deducted from your check (like taxes or insurance). If possible, try to gather pay information for the past six months.

  • Tax returns for the past two years.

You may not be able to locate all these documents. At a minimum, though, you must have your two most recent tax returns, pay stubs for the past 60 days, and your most recent bank statement. These documents are required by law.

Take a Credit Counseling Course

Before you can file bankruptcy in Connecticut, you must take a credit counseling course. This course is required for everyone who files bankruptcy, even if you’re filing with a lawyer. This course is designed to inform debtors about the different chapters of bankruptcy as well as the alternative types of debt relief available. 

You must take the course from a state-approved provider. Most providers offer the course over the phone, online, or both. Ordinarily, Money Management International also provides an in-person course at its East Berlin location, but the in-person option is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19. Providers charge a range of fees for the credit counseling course, with most fees falling between $10 and $50. Many providers will waive this fee if you qualify based on your income.

You’ll get a certificate from your provider for completing the credit counseling course. You must file this certificate with the bankruptcy court at the same time you file your other paperwork. The certificate is valid for 180 days after it’s issued. If you don’t file bankruptcy within 180 days after the date on your certificate, you’ll have to take (and pay for) the course again.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

Filling out your bankruptcy forms is the most challenging part of filing your bankruptcy, but it will be much easier now that you have all the necessary documents on hand. Most of the forms you’ll need are federal forms. These forms are free to download and are the same in every state. You don’t need to download every federal form available, though. The Connecticut bankruptcy court’s guide has a list of the forms you need. The federal forms are available as fillable PDFs, so you can complete them on any computer. Don’t forget to download the federal instruction guide, which will help you fill out the forms correctly.

If you’re filing using Upsolve’s free tool, you don’t need to find and download the right forms. Instead, you’ll answer a series of online questions, and Upsolve will use your answers to prepare your forms for you. If you’re filing with an attorney, you’ll typically bring in your documents and complete a questionnaire. Your lawyer’s office will use the information you entered and your documents to complete your bankruptcy forms.

Get Your Filing Fee

The Connecticut bankruptcy court charges a $338 filing fee to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. This fee is the same for all U.S. bankruptcy courts. You’ll pay the filing fee at the same time you file your bankruptcy forms with the court clerk. You may need to wait to file your case until you have the full fee amount. 

In some cases, you must file in a hurry, and you don’t have time to save up the whole filing fee. For instance, if a creditor is garnishing your wages, you need to file right away, so the Bankruptcy Code’s automatic stay provision will take effect and stop the garnishment. In these situations, you can ask the court to let you pay the filing fee in installments. To do this, complete the application form and file it along with your other bankruptcy paperwork. Installment payments should only be used in emergencies, though. If you miss a payment, the court can dismiss your case. Wait to pay the whole filing fee at once if you can.

If your household income is less than 150% of the Connecticut poverty guidelines, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. To request a waiver, complete the waiver application form and submit it to the court with your other forms. Check the Connecticut Fee Waiver Eligibility table below to see if you qualify.

If you’re using Upsolve’s filing tool, Upsolve will send you all your completed forms as a single document, complete with dividers showing you which pages you need to sign. If you’re filing on your own, you’ll need to print each completed bankruptcy form individually and put them in the correct order. Use this checklist to make sure you print every form you need.

Your forms must be printed in black ink on regular white, letter-size (8.5 x 11 inches) paper. Don’t print double-sided. Even though you’ll be using a lot of paper, printing double-sided interferes with the court staff’s ability to scan your bankruptcy forms into the court’s electronic filing system. Check each page carefully and sign in each place there is a signature box, using black or blue ink.

File Your Forms With the Connecticut Bankruptcy Court

Only licensed attorneys can use the Connecticut bankruptcy court’s electronic filing system. You’ll need to file your forms by taking them or mailing them to the correct court clerk’s office. The court encourages in-person filing whenever possible, but you may mail your petition and filing fee if necessary. 

The District of Connecticut Bankruptcy Court has three locations throughout the state. If you live in Litchfield or Fairfield counties, you should use the Bridgeport location. If you live in Hartford, New London, Tolland, or Windham counties, you should use the Hartford location. If you live in New Haven or Middlesex counties, you should use the New Haven location. You’ll need to bring either your full filing fee or an application for a waiver or installment payments. The clerk’s office is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you may file your forms, together with your filing fee or application for waiver or installment payments, in a lockbox located outside the clerk’s office. Put your payment in an envelope together with your other paperwork. Don’t leave loose checks or documents in the lockbox. Forms submitted in the lockbox may not be processed until the next day. The court may continue to take other temporary measures as necessary due to COVID-19.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

Every bankruptcy that’s filed in Connecticut is assigned to a bankruptcy trustee. The court clerk will give you a notice with your trustee’s name and contact information when you file your case. If you filed by mail or lockbox, the court will mail the notice to you. The trustee’s job is to look over your bankruptcy forms and make sure nothing is missing or incomplete. They’re also required to verify that the information listed on your forms is accurate, especially information about your income and expenses. 

The Bankruptcy Code and the District of Connecticut’s Local Rules require you to send copies of certain documents to your trustee at least seven days before your scheduled 341 meeting (more about that later). These documents allow the trustee to verify your information. They include:

  • Your two most recently filed federal income tax returns.

  • A bank statement that includes the date you filed your bankruptcy case. For instance, if you filed your case on August 16, use the statement for August 1-31. If you have more than one bank account, you need a statement for each account.

  • Pay information or pay stubs (sometimes called “pay advices”) for the 60 days before the date you filed your case.

Depending on your case and your trustee, the trustee may request other documents in addition to the ones listed above. Usually, your trustee will send you a letter shortly after your case is filed telling you exactly what documents they need and where you should send them.

Take a Debtor Education Course

Everyone who files personal bankruptcy, including people who file with a lawyer, must complete a debtor education course to be eligible for a discharge. This course is also sometimes called a financial management course, and it covers:

  • Basic money management skills,

  • Smart financial strategies, and

  • Common money mistakes to avoid.

The course was designed to help Chapter 7 debtors make the most of their fresh start after bankruptcy.

You must take this course from a state-approved provider. Most providers offer the course online, by telephone, or both. You’ll receive a certificate for completing the course. Your course provider may file this certificate with the court for you. If not, download Form 423 and fill it out based on the information on your certificate. Then sign the form and file it with the court.

You don’t have to complete the debtor education course before your 341 meeting, but it’s usually easier to get it over with early so you don’t forget about it. If you don’t file your Form 423 within 60 days after your 341 meeting, the court may close your case without a discharge. Without a discharge, you’ll still owe all your debts.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

After you file your bankruptcy, you’ll get a notice letting you know when your 341 meeting will be held. This meeting is your chance to meet with your trustee, confirm your identity, and answer any questions the trustee might have. The meeting usually happens 21-45 days after you file your case. It’s called the 341 meeting because it’s required by Section 341(a) of the Bankruptcy Code. It’s also sometimes called the meeting of creditors. The court will notify your creditors about the meeting, but they usually don’t attend. 

Your 341 meeting will be held at the courthouse where you filed your case. It’s not a court hearing, though, and there won’t be a judge present. You must attend this meeting. You need to bring a valid, government-issued photo ID and proof of your Social Security number. Most Chapter 7 meetings take 10 minutes or less. After your 341 meeting, the court will ordinarily grant your discharge within 60-90 days.

Dealing with Your Car

Your options for dealing with your car in a Chapter 7 case are different depending on whether you lease or own your car and whether you owe any money on it. If you're still paying on a car loan, you can choose to keep your car and continue making your payments as if you hadn’t filed bankruptcy. You must be current on the payments to choose this option. The lender may ask you to sign a reaffirmation agreement

If you owe more than your car is worth, or if you’re stuck with an auto loan you can’t afford, you can also choose to surrender the car to the lender. You won’t owe anything else on the loan. After bankruptcy, you can look for a vehicle that fits within your budget.

If you own your car free and clear, whether you can keep it depends on the car’s current market value. If your car’s value is higher than the available exemption limits, the trustee may decide to sell your vehicle to pay some of your debt. Your available exemption amount could be different depending on whether you choose the state or federal exemptions, but the maximum amount of exemptions you could claim for your car is $17,900 (using the federal personal property exemptions).

If you’re leasing your car, you can choose to keep the vehicle and continue with the lease as usual. This is called assuming the lease. You must be current on your lease payments to assume your lease. You can also use bankruptcy to escape an unaffordable lease agreement. This is called rejecting the lease. You return the car to the lessor and don’t owe any additional payments or fees.

Connecticut Bankruptcy Means Test

The means test calculates whether you qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The first part of the test is whether your household’s monthly income is higher or lower than the state median income for your family size. If your income is lower, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7. If your income is higher than this threshold, you must complete the second part of the means test.

The second part of the means test determines how much money you have leftover each month, after deducting:

  • Living expenses (based on national standards),

  • Your priority debt payments (such as child support, alimony, or back taxes), and

  • Your secured debt payments (such as your car loan).

If you have enough money left over to pay at least 25% of your unsecured debts, then according to the test, you have the “means” to repay some of your creditors through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. In other words, you don’t qualify for Chapter 7.

Data on Median income levels for Connecticut

Connecticut Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2024
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Data on Poverty levels for Connecticut

Connecticut Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2024

Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.

Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)

Connecticut Bankruptcy Forms

Even though you’re filing bankruptcy in Connecticut, most of the forms you’ll use in your case will be federal forms. These are the same in every state. The District of Connecticut does have some local forms, but most of them don’t apply in Chapter 7 cases. 

One local form that you — and all debtors who file Chapter 7 in Connecticut — must complete is the Domestic Support Obligation Disclosure Form. (The form is available online, but you can’t view it in your browser. To use this form, you must save the destination file to your computer, then open the fillable PDF in a PDF reader like Adobe Acrobat.) Download and complete this form, but don’t file it with the court. Instead, mail it to your trustee along with your other documents at least seven days before your 341 meeting.

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Connecticut Districts & Filing Requirements

There is one judicial district for the entire state of Connecticut, meaning that every Connecticut bankruptcy is filed in the District of Connecticut. This district has the following requirements:

  • Filing methods: You can file your bankruptcy forms by mail or in person.

  • Installment payments: If you’re paying your filing fee in installments, there is no minimum amount that must be paid when you file your case. You must make your final payment within four months after the date you file your case.

  • Payment methods: You can pay your filing fee using a certified check or money order payable to “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” The court will accept cash, but only if you’re filing in person during normal business hours.

Connecticut Bankruptcy Exemptions

Exemption laws protect some of your property. If property is exempt, the court can’t force you to sell it to pay your debts. Anyone who files bankruptcy in Connecticut may use the federal exemptions. If you’ve lived in Connecticut for at least two years before filing bankruptcy, you may choose to use the Connecticut state exemptions instead. 

Whether you choose to use the state or federal exemptions depends on what property you’re trying to protect. If you’re self-employed, for example, the federal exemptions allow you to protect up to $2,525 worth of “tools of the trade” — the tools, books, and equipment you use to earn a living. The state exemptions, on the other hand, allow you to claim an unlimited amount of tools of the trade as exempt. Compare the two sets of exemptions to determine which offers you more protection. You must choose either federal or state exemptions, though. You can’t mix and match the two.

Connecticut Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost

If you choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney to handle your case, they’ll probably charge you a flat-rate fee. In Connecticut, the average attorney fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically range from $800 to $2,400, depending on the attorney’s expertise and the complexity of the case. Cost is an important consideration when selecting an attorney. That said, it’s important to consider other factors besides cost when choosing the right lawyer to handle your case.

If you aren’t comfortable navigating the bankruptcy process yourself and you don’t have the resources to hire an attorney, consider Connecticut’s legal aid options. These organizations provide free or discounted legal services to qualified residents. If you’re eligible for Chapter 7, you’ll likely also qualify for legal aid programs.

Statewide Legal Services of Connecticut, Inc.
(860) 344-8096
1290 Silas Deane Highway, Suite 3A, Wethersfield, CT 06109

Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Connecticut Court Locations

Brien McMahon Federal Building and United States Courthouse

Brien McMahon Federal Building and United States Courthouse
915 Lafayette Boulevard Bridgeport, CT 06604

Connecticut Financial Center

Connecticut Financial Center
157 Church Street New Haven, CT 06510

Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building and United States Courthouse

Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building and United States Courthouse
450 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103

Connecticut Judges

Brien McMahon Federal Building and United States Courthouse

Brien McMahon Federal Building and United States Courthouse
915 Lafayette Boulevard Bridgeport, CT 06604

Connecticut Financial Center

Connecticut Financial Center
157 Church Street New Haven, CT 06510

Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building and United States Courthouse

Abraham Ribicoff Federal Building and United States Courthouse
450 Main Street Hartford, CT 06103

Connecticut Trustees

Connecticut Trustees
TrusteeContact Info
Richard M. Coan
Barbara H. Katz
Bonnie C. Mangan
Anthony S. Novak
(860) 432-7710
John J. O'Neil
Kara S. Rescia
(860) 452-0052
George I. Roumeliotis
(203) 580-3355

Written By:

Attorney Andrea Wimmer


Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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