Written by Attorney Jacquelyne N. Mosley-Pastrana.
Updated August 17, 2020
Waterbury, the Brass City, is in New Haven County and has a population of just over 108,000 people. This family-friendly city was listed by The Today Show as one of the 100 best places to raise a family. Waterbury has growing communities of Albanian, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Brazilians, Lithuanians and Puerto Ricans. It’s also flourishing with Italian and Irish heritage. Despite the things that make Waterbury great, it has not escaped the woes many cities experience with stores such as Sears Holdings and Toys R Us closing. Life happens, and when you feel the pressure of debt, know that you are not alone. Many like you have taken steps to explore their options to get out of debt, including filing bankruptcy in Waterbury.
Before becoming the public figures they are today, former U.S. Senator for Connecticut Linda McMahon and her WWE Hall of Famer husband, Vince McMahon, had some rocky times financially. She and her husband had to rely on public assistance. Eventually, they took hold of their financial future, filed for bankruptcy in Connecticut, and were able to get a fresh start to improve their lives. Linda McMahon went on to become a U.S. Senator and moved on to further aspirations. She is proof that life gets better after filing bankruptcy in Waterbury. Studies show you can earn up to 25% more than you did before and help your credit score.
Many explore debt relief options before deciding that filing bankruptcy is in their best interest. Many file Chapter 7 bankruptcy because they qualify under the income limits. By filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury, you can have your debt discharged in 4 to 6 months. A bankruptcy discharge is a court order wiping away your debt. Typically, people file for Chapter 13 when they don't qualify for Chapter 7 due to too much income. If you have money left over at the end of the month, it’s assumed you have money to pay down your debts under Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 creates a payment plan over three to five years. At the end of a successful payment plan, you get a discharge. Both Chapter 7 and 13 stop creditors from calling you, and stop collections, and give you time to plan your financial future.
You may feel like you can't afford to file bankruptcy, but there is free help to guide you through the process. Upsolve can help, and there are many avenues available to help you when you are filing your bankruptcy in Waterbury. The Connecticut bankruptcy court has a Pro Bono Attorney Program which assigns attorneys for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. Another local nonprofit is the Connecticut Legal Services helps people like you navigate through legal issues. Another agency that can help you with filing bankruptcy in Waterbury is Statewide Legal Services.
Waterbury Bankruptcy Lawyers - Estimated Cost
Some find that their Waterbury bankruptcy is more complicated than they realized and hire a lawyer to help them. An attorney is a worthwhile investment if your case is more complicated because you have many different kinds of debt, valuable property you don’t want to lose, or particularly aggressive creditors. A Waterbury bankruptcy lawyer costs about $1,600 to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The range varies from $800-$2,400 depending on the complexity of your case. When you reach out to lawyers, ask about a free consultation. They will review your case, and you can ask them about the fees and their experience. By hiring a lawyer for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury, you can get answers to the questions you have about the strategy for your case and which creditors you should continue to pay. For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, your attorney can help you establish a reasonable payment plan that meets all the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code. You may find hiring a lawyer worthwhile if you have a complicated case and you’re not sure how to navigate through the bankruptcy process on your own.
How to File Bankruptcy in Waterbury, Connecticut for Free
Taking steps to manage your debt takes work on the front end and follow-through during the Waterbury bankruptcy process. Below you have steps to guide you along the way.
Collect Your Waterbury Bankruptcy Documents
It helps not to scramble around later looking for documents you will need for your Waterbury bankruptcy. Prepare by gathering the documents now. You will need evidence that reflects your income, debts, and what you own (your assets). Income is the money you earn. Gather your taxes, W2s, and recent pay stubs. If you don't have these, you can contact the Human Resources or payroll department of your former or present employer. If you need your taxes, you can go online to the IRS and order a copy of your most recent tax returns. Debts are money that you owe. Print of a copy of your credit report to help map out your debt. You can print your credit report for free and review those listed on the report. Then write a list of those businesses and people that you know you owe that didn’t make it on your credit report. Other debts include current child support obligations. Gather your asset and investment documents as well as your most recent bank account, retirement account, and any investment account statements. If you can't find them, they may be available online. Other documents to gather are your vehicle registration, property appraisals, and any judgments against you, including a divorce decree. Keep in mind that it will help you in the long run to collect documents that help paint a picture of your entire financial situation.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you file your bankruptcy, you explore your options through an approved credit counseling course. During the course, you will review your alternatives, including debt consolidation. You will use a budget to analyze whether you could make payments. You can use the tools you learn here to find the best solution for your financial situation. Many Brass City residents decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury because it’s not realistic to pay down their debt. You can take the approved credit counseling course by phone, online, or in-person (if you’re willing to travel to East Berlin for it). After completing this one-hour course, you can get your certificate of completion. The certificate of completion is filed with your Waterbury bankruptcy forms. It’s crucial to the success of your case to include this certificate with your bankruptcy forms because you can’t be a debtor in bankruptcy without completing this course first.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
You will need to get into specifics about your income, debts, and assets on the bankruptcy forms. You can find the forms through the U.S. Courts' website, but it may be difficult locating the specific forms you need with so many forms listed. You may want to know which forms and why you need them, but don’t worry because Upsolve has narrowed down the forms you need for your Connecticut bankruptcy. When you are completing these 24 forms, it may seem like you are entering the same information multiple times, and you probably are. You will want to be consistent when completing these forms, so you’re answering the same question the same way throughout. Some New Haven County residents opt to buy bankruptcy software to help them complete the forms for their Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury. The software can guide through the confusion of filling out your bankruptcy forms. Even if you don’t buy software, you can complete your Waterbury bankruptcy by taking your time and carefully and thoroughly completing these forms.
Get Your Filing Fee
If you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the Court requires you to pay a filing fee to process your case. You can pay the $338 for Chapter 7 or $313 for Chapter 13 bankruptcy by cash, money order, or cashier's check. The Court does not accept credit or debit cards from individuals filing bankruptcy in Waterbury. If you can’t pay your Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee all at once, you can apply to pay your fee in installments. These are small payments to pay your filing fee over a period of four months. If you can’t afford to pay the $338 Chapter 7 filing fee at all, you can apply for a fee waiver. Use the information from your Waterbury bankruptcy schedules to complete the application. If your fee waiver is granted, you don't have to pay the filing fee. If denied, you can opt to pay your filing fee in installments. If your installment request is granted, you can make up to four payments to satisfy your filing fee. It’s crucial to settle your filing fee so your Connecticut bankruptcy case can proceed without a problem.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Print your Waterbury bankruptcy petition, schedules, and statements one-sided. Many New Haven County residents print at home. If you don't have access to a home printer, you can print at your local library or county library. At the New Haven County library, Wi-Fi printing is available at $0.25 per page. Review each page after printing. You can sign the spaces designated for your signature. Only one copy is required to file your Waterbury bankruptcy, but it’s wise to make a copy for yourself and have it file-stamped at the courthouse.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
As part of New Haven County, you will file your Waterbury bankruptcy case the New Haven U.S. Bankruptcy Court at 157 Church Street in New Haven. Although some filers mail their Waterbury bankruptcy forms to the Court, there are advantages to filing your bankruptcy in person. The drive to the courthouse is 40-minutes, but there is parking nearby. Submitting everything in person gives the Clerk at the Bankruptcy Court the chance to review your bankruptcy filing. If it gets returned, you will have the chance to review your filing, correct the error right then and there. Then you can submit the corrected filing without losing any time waiting on the Court to mail you a notice that something is wrong.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
After you file your Waterbury bankruptcy, you will be assigned a Trustee who will review your bankruptcy and preside over your 341 Meeting. The Trustee will look for any assets to repay your creditors but don't worry, most Chapter 7 bankruptcies don’t have unprotected assets to be sold to repay creditors. When the Trustee asks you for documents, it’s best to submit them quickly because your 341 meeting typically takes place a month after you file.
The Court gives your creditors notice that you filed a Waterbury bankruptcy through Form 309A. If you find the form in your mailbox marked "undeliverable," then a creditor didn’t get it. No need to stress because you can fix the problem. You’ll need to find the correct address, send the form to the creditor at the right address, and update your bankruptcy matrix with the creditor’s actual address.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
One of the simplest but most overlooked steps in completing your Waterbury bankruptcy is taking the second approved bankruptcy course. It’s also known as the pre-discharge course. It’s vital to take this course to make sure you get your discharge. The second bankruptcy course is about 90 minutes and goes through making goals and a plan for life after bankruptcy. Its focus is to help you strategize how you can save some of the money you make and plan for the future. Don't take offense if the examples don't fit your situation, because it’s a generalized course. It’s meant to reach a broad audience filing bankruptcy in Waterbury, just like you. To complete this step, take an approved pre-discharge course online or by telephone and get your certificate of completion. You’re required to file the certificate at the New Haven Court before the court can successfully discharge your Waterbury bankruptcy.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Your 341 Meeting of Creditors will take place about a month after you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury. Despite its name, creditors usually don’t show up. Regardless of whether you have assets for the Trustee to distribute, attend your 341 Meeting. It’s essential to getting your discharge. Your 341 Meeting will take place in Room 309 at 150 Court Street, New Haven, CT. You are required to bring your photo identification and original social security card when you meet with the Trustee. Don’t be surprised if you see that 8-10 others are scheduled to meet with the Trustee at the same hour that you have your meeting. Each meeting is only about 5-10 minutes. The Trustee will ask you about your Waterbury bankruptcy. Others in Waterbury have been successful by keeping their answers clear, honest, and concise.
Dealing with Your Car
In this family city, having a car may make life easier for errands, school, and extracurriculars, even if the roads are a never-ending construction project. When you file you Waterbury bankruptcy, you have options about what to do with your car. Those who want their debt wiped away, make plans to get around without the car and surrender the vehicle.
For one reason or another, some people keep their vehicles and either reaffirm or redeem the car. Reaffirmation is typically available if you are current on your car payments. Reaffirmation is when you and the lender enter into another car loan agreement. Usually, this is the same as the agreement you had before your Waterbury bankruptcy. If you are doing your own bankruptcy, you will go to a hearing before a judge. The judge will warn you about the upsides (keeping your car) and the downsides (high-interest rate/no discharge of the debt) of the option you chose. If you are represented by an attorney, the attorney can sign that the reaffirmation is in your best interest and so avoid having to go to a hearing.
A redemption is a lump sum payment for the negotiated value of the vehicle, sometimes paid with funds from a redemption lender. Not everyone who considers a redemption lender continues with the process, because these loans usually come with high-interest rates that wipe out the benefit of lowering the balance you owed on your original loan. On the other hand, if you own your car outright, you can use a bankruptcy exemption to keep it as long as it’s worth less than the law allows. Bankruptcy exemptions protect money or property through your Waterbury bankruptcy.
Connecticut Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Waterbury
Connecticut Means Test
When you’re preparing for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury, you should keep consistency in mind when completing the Connecticut Means Test. Although the cost of living in Waterbury is less than the state overall, do not underestimate your expenses when comparing your annual income. Expenses such as medical bills can be added as additional expenses as long as you can explain them.
Median Income Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
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Poverty Levels for Connecticut
Connecticut Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Connecticut Bankruptcy Forms
When filing bankruptcy in Waterbury, make sure the information on your Connecticut bankruptcy forms mirrors the schedules. If you are filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury, your review Schedule I and Schedule J to make sure it matches your Means Test forms.
Connecticut allows residents to choose between using Connecticut bankruptcy exemptions and federal bankruptcy exemptions when filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Waterbury. You would base your decision on which set of bankruptcy exemptions protects the property that matters to you. For example, if you were trying to keep the equity in your home, Connecticut has a homestead exemption of $75,000 per person while the federal exemption is only $22,975 per person. Per person means the exemptions may be doubled by married couples. On the other hand, with the Federal Exemptions, you could take advantage of the wild-card exemption that protects from $1,225 to $11,500 of otherwise unprotected property. Explore which will work best for your situation by first making a list of everything you own.