Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
Being weighed down by debt you can’t afford to pay can affect virtually every aspect of a person’s life. The financial pressure of knowing that you have overdue bills can cause you to avoid your mailbox, the phone, your email, and your online financial statements. Soon, you can feel like withdrawing more and more from life in general. This is no way to live, especially because any hardworking and financially responsible adult can find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own. The Great Recession of 2008 taught Americans that the vast majority of adults are a single job loss, economic dip, illness, injury, accident or death in the family away from financial catastrophe. Thankfully, there are solutions available that can bring you out of this dark place and back to a position of financial optimism. Specifically, filing for Connecticut bankruptcy under Chapter 7 can eliminate many kinds of debt in as few as 90 days. If you don’t qualify to file under Chapter 7, you can file under Chapter 13 and make your debts significantly more manageable. Filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport has proven to be a powerful financial tool for many residents of Park City and it can serve as a similarly life-altering resource for you and your family.
Bridgeport bankruptcy isn’t the best debt-relief option for every family. If you’re only significantly behind on one or two accounts or you’re a homeowner primarily in need of a mortgage modification, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might not suit your needs. However, if you don’t earn much money, you don’t have much valuable property that you’re worried about, and you are struggling to make ends meet while making your debt payments regularly, filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport might be a great option for your family. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 eliminates eligible debt so that you no longer have to pay that debt off. If being relieved of that burden could change your financial situation significantly, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport might be an option strongly worth considering.
Bridgeport Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
Because filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport is a legal challenge, you may understandably be wondering “How much does a Bridgeport bankruptcy lawyer cost?” After all, most legal situations require the assistance of an attorney experienced in whatever specific area of law applies to an individual’s specific circumstances. However, you don’t necessarily need to worry about the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer if you don’t make much income. Most Chapter 7 cases are so straightforward that you can complete necessary bankruptcy paperwork yourself without investing in a lawyer’s services. You can always choose to hire bankruptcy help in Bridgeport for your Chapter 7 case, but it will cost you between $800 - $2,400, depending on the facts of your case.
How to File Bankruptcy in Bridgeport, Connecticut for Free
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport is the best debt-relief option for some families and not a great fit for other families. Before you commit to filing for Connecticut bankruptcy, read the following information about the process so that you can make an informed decision about whether it’s the right move for your family.
Collect Your Bridgeport Bankruptcy Documents
Before you begin filling out your bankruptcy forms, you’ll need to gather some documents that you can reference easily as you prepare your case. Just as you can’t file your taxes without referring to your end-of-year income statements, etc. you can’t file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport without referring to some common financial documents. When you’re filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport, the Court will ask you about your income, expenses, property, and debts. You can’t accurately give the Court the information it’s requesting unless you look at recent pay stubs, your recent bank and credit card statements, your bills, and a current copy of your credit report. Gather these documents before you begin filling out your paperwork and your filing process will be as efficient as possible.
Take Credit Counseling
Most people are surprised to learn that before they are allowed to file their Bridgeport bankruptcy paperwork, they are required to participate in a credit counseling course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the District of Connecticut. The Court requires you to take this class before you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport so that you can explore all your debt-relief options before committing to bankruptcy. You can access courses conveniently online, just make sure that the course you choose is approved before you begin or your participation “won’t count” for the purposes of this requirement.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Did your parents ever tell you that you had to eat all your dinner before you could have dessert? If the fresh financial start that bankruptcy provides is the “dessert” of this process, filling out your bankruptcy forms is the “dinner.” This is the part of “how to file bankruptcy in Bridgeport” that takes the most time and is arguably the most important. The Court will make its decision about your case primarily based on the information you provide in your forms. Thankfully, these forms are straightforward if you follow the directionsprovided by the Court. You should be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport without the assistance of an attorney, as long as you feel confident about completing these forms yourself.
Get Your Filing Fee
Unless you apply for (and are approved for) a fee waiver, filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport under Chapter 7 requires payment of a $335 filing fee. In general, low-income filers of Connecticut bankruptcy cases are approved for fee waivers if they live below 150% of the poverty line and can’t afford to pay the fee in installments. If you don’t live below 150% of the poverty line but paying the entire $335 fee all at once would be a hardship for your family, you can submit a request to the Court asking to pay the fee in installments over time.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When filing for Bridgeport bankruptcy, you can fill out most of your bankruptcy paperwork online as fillable PDFs. However, you can’t complete the process online as the Court requires you to physically print out your documents before it will accept them. Once they are printed, you’ll be able to file them in-person at the courthouse or mail them to the Court. If you don’t have easy access to a printer and you don’t want to pay higher printing fees at commercial outlets like Kinkos or Staples, you can print them for a modest fee at a local branch of the Bridgeport Public Library.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut conveniently has a location at 915 Lafayette Boulevard, across the street from the Housatonic Museum of Art and Bocados Cafe in downtown Bridgeport. This means that although you have the option of filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport by sending your forms in via postal mail, you can also drop them off in person right in Bridgeport. The Court even provides handy directions if you’re traveling into Bridgeport from elsewhere. There are numerous advantages to filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport in-person. You avoid the risk that your papers will be lost in the mail and while you’re at the Court, you can have the clerk stamp a copy of your papers for your records. Additionally, you better ensure that your bankruptcy case will progress as quickly as possible when you avoid the time-delay that comes along with sending your documents in the mail.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you were gathering together your personal financial documents before you began filling out your bankruptcy paperwork, did you find your most recent tax return? How about pay stubs for 60 days or more before you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport? These are just some of the documents that you will likely need to make copies of so you can forward them to your Trustee. Once the Court assigns a Trustee to your Connecticut bankruptcy case, you’ll be provided with directions concerning which documents must be forwarded, how they need to be sent and the deadline for completing this task.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Before you filed for Bridgeport bankruptcy, you participated in a pre-filing credit counseling course designed to help you evaluate your available debt-relief options. Before the Court will approve your bankruptcy discharge, it requires you to participate in one more educational experience. This time, you need to sign up for a financial management course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers residing in Connecticut. This class will teach you how to manage your finances moving forward in ways that will help to ensure the benefits of bankruptcy positively influence your financial future for years to come. Bankruptcy offers short-term relief but it also offers long-term benefits when approached correctly.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Many people are intimidated by the idea of sitting down with their Trustee and creditors during a mandatory 341 meeting. However, there’s really no reason to worry. First, creditors usually don’t show up to these meetings when the debtors involved have relatively low-level and uncomplicated debts. Most of these meetings only last for 10-20 minutes and involve only the individual filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport and their Trustee. When you arrive at your 341 meeting, you’ll be asked to present an official photo ID and an official copy of your Social Security card. Before the Trustee asks you any questions, you’ll be placed under oath. As long as you’re honest when answering questions about your finances and you’re respectful of your Trustee, you should do just fine.
Dealing with Your Car
If you’re still making payments on a car loan at the time you’re filing bankruptcy in Bridgeport, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons of three specific options when it comes to dealing with your car. The Court will allow you to stop making payments on your current loan if you surrender your car by returning it to your creditor. However, this isn’t always a practical option for families who rely on their vehicles to get to work, school and medical appointments. If you want to keep your car, you’ll have to reaffirm your debt or redeem the car. Reaffirming your debt means proving to the Court that moving forward, you’ll be able to reliably make your loan payments per the terms of your lending agreement. But if you can redeem your car, this may be your best option. Redeeming your car requires you to make one payment in the amount of your car’s current market value, and you’ll get clear title for it. The rest of your loan will be wiped out by your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport. Not everyone can take advantage of this option, but those that can generally enjoy the dual benefits of retaining ownership of their vehicles while wiping out their debt.
Connecticut Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Bridgeport
Connecticut Means Test
To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport, you’ll need to pass the Connecticut bankruptcy Means Test. The Connecticut bankruptcy Means Test imposes state-specific income limits on households filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to ensure that only low-income filers qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under this Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Thankfully, those filers who don’t pass the Means Test can explore alternative debt relief options, including a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Median Income Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Poverty Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut 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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Connecticut Bankruptcy Forms
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Bridgeport is easier than filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in many areas of the U.S. Unlike other District Courts, the Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut doesn’t require filers to submit local Connecticut bankruptcy forms in addition to the standard, federal forms you need to file no matter which state you live in. This makes filing on your own that much easier of a process to navigate.
If you have lived in Connecticut for at least two years before filing bankruptcy, the Court will allow you to use either Connecticut bankruptcy exemptions or federal bankruptcy exemptions in regards to your property. When you file for Bridgeport bankruptcy, your Trustee can sell your property and use the profits of the sale to repay your creditors unless your property is considered exempt. In a form referred to as Schedule C, you will apply either Connecticut bankruptcy exemptions or federal ones (not both) to all of your eligible property to keep it safe from the risk of being sold by your Trustee. Unless your property is unusually valuable, it will likely be covered by available exemptions, no matter which model you choose.