Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
When debt becomes overwhelming, it can be surprisingly tempting to ignore your financial trouble. While ignoring financial challenges doesn’t make them go away (and usually makes them much worse), not dealing with mounting debt can temporarily make your worry, frustration, and gut-churning anxiety stop. It’s for this reason that seeking debt-relief solutions is a truly courageous act. Dealing with your financial challenges head-on isn’t easy. Thankfully, the process of rebuilding a solid financial foundation may be more straightforward than you might think. For example, filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville may be a life-altering option for you and your family and can potentially erase your debts in as little as 90 days. Depending on the complexity of your financial situation, you may even be able to file your Florida bankruptcy without hiring an attorney.
Residents of “Where Florida Begins” generally file for two kinds of bankruptcy if they don’t also own a family business in need of bankruptcy protection. If your household could significantly benefit from reducing your monthly debt payments, you may choose to file Jacksonville bankruptcy under Chapter 13. This kind of bankruptcy reorganizes debt to make payments more manageable and is often a great option for families who make a decent living and own valuable assets. However, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually preferable if your household doesn’t earn much income and you don’t own many luxury items. If a family is eligible for Chapter 7, it’s generally preferable to Chapter 13 because instead of reorganizing a family’s debt, it eliminates many kinds of debt so that creditors no longer have to be paid back. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, don’t give in to the temptation to ignore your financial challenges. Instead, think about filing for bankruptcy. If this process is a good fit for your situation, it’ll allow you to “start fresh.”
Jacksonville Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
One of the most frequently asked questions that individuals thinking about filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville have is “How much does a Jacksonville bankruptcy lawyer cost?” The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer for a Chapter 7 filing depends on how complex your financial situation is. Many low-income filers opt to complete the bankruptcy process without a lawyer’s help because the paperwork is so straightforward. However, others prefer to hire bankruptcy assistance in Jacksonville to better ensure that they don’t “miss a step.” In general, you can hire a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney in Jacksonville for around $1,000, if you don’t feel comfortable filing your paperwork yourself.
How to File Bankruptcy in Jacksonville, Florida for Free
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville isn’t the best option for everyone, but it may be a great option for you and your family. To learn more about the Florida bankruptcy process under Chapter 7, please review the following information; once you have a strong overview of the process, you can make an informed decision about the best path forward given your unique circumstances.
Collect Your Jacksonville Bankruptcy Documents
Before formally filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville, you’ll need to fill out a substantial amount of paperwork required by the Court. To accurately provide the Court with the information it requests in this paperwork, you’ll need to gather together some personal financial documents. After all, you can’t accurately give the Court an accounting of your current income without referencing your recent pay stubs. Similarly, you may benefit from requesting a free copy of your credit report so that you can easily make an accurate list of your debts and creditors. If you own a car, you may need to track down your title so that you can provide the Court with specific information about this asset. The more personal documentation you can gather about your finances before you begin completing your paperwork, the easier it’ll be for you to submit the forms required for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville.
Take Credit Counseling
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville is not the best debt-relief option for every low-income household. Sometimes, it makes sense to take advantage of loan modification opportunities and/or alternatives to bankruptcy relief. Because the Court wants to make sure that you understand your options, you’re required to take a Jacksonville bankruptcy credit counseling course in the six months before you file for bankruptcy. You can conveniently take the course online, provided your class has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Middle District of Florida. Even if the company offering the course is based outside of Florida, you can register and receive credit for your participation as long as the course has been approved for filers in the Middle District.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
There are generally two approaches that people take when undertaking an unfamiliar task. Some people like to follow instructions and some people like to figure things out as they go along. When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Jacksonville, you should embrace the “follow all instructions” approach, even if this isn’t usually the way you would go about navigating an unfamiliar process. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville is a relatively straightforward process if you carefully follow the Court’s directions. Although you can hire an attorney if doing so makes you more comfortable, you should be able to complete your bankruptcy paperwork on your own to save some time and money, as long as you follow the directions on each form closely.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville usually requires an upfront financial investment in the form of a filing fee. However, exceptions to the filing fee requirement are often made for eligible filers who live below 150% of the poverty line and formally request a fee waiver from the Court. If you don’t qualify for a fee waiver but are hesitating to file for Jacksonville bankruptcy because the fee is overwhelming, know that you can also ask the Court to allow you to pay your fee in installments over time. Whether you pay the entire amount upfront or over time, know that the Court doesn’t accept credit cards or personal checks, only cash (exact change), money orders and cashier's checks.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When filing for Jacksonville bankruptcy, you aren’t allowed to submit your paperwork online. Your forms will need to be physically printed out on a home-based or commercial printer. Some local businesses and national chain stores can print them for a fee. Another easy way to print bankruptcy forms is to visit a local branch of the Jacksonville Public Library, which boasts 20 local branches around Jacksonville. This option is often more convenient than using a commercial service provider and allows you to check out a great book, audiobook, DVD or CD while you’re taking the time to invest in your financial future.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
From Amelia Island to the Zoo and Gardens, Jacksonville has so much to offer. One of the many benefits of living in Jacksonville is that you can file your bankruptcy paperwork at an impressive and conveniently located courthouse. Jacksonville is part of the Middle District of Florida, which has an office located at 300 North Hogan Street. Note that the courthouse doesn’t have its own parking lot, so you’ll need to use a public or private lot near the facility when filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville. Make sure to take along an extra copy of your forms so that the clerk can stamp them for your records.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
When you file for Florida bankruptcy, the Court appoints a Trustee to oversee parts of your case, including a brief meeting between you and your creditors later in the process. To prepare, the Trustee requests specific financial documents to review so that they can ask the filer questions about their financial circumstances during the 341 meeting. Once you have submitted your paperwork to the Court, a Trustee will be assigned to your case and will let you know what documents need to be forwarded. You’ll be asked to produce your most recent tax return, numerous recent paystubs and any other documents the Trustee requires. This part of the process helps the Court determine whether you should be granted debt relief via Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In addition to a credit counseling requirement, you will need to participate in a debtor education class before your Jacksonville bankruptcy case can be finalized. This course will focus on issues of personal financial management after your bankruptcy case is complete and can be taken conveniently online. Make sure to pay attention because the goal of this course is to ensure that you benefit as fully as possible from the fresh start that bankruptcy provides. Just like you did with your pre-filing credit counseling requirement, make sure to choose a course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Middle District or your participation won’t fulfill this educational requirement.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
When preparing for your 341 meeting with your Trustee, make sure that you pack both a photo ID and an official copy of your Social Security card to bring to the meeting. The meeting is likely only going to last between 10-20 minutes or so, as creditors don’t usually show up for meetings with Florida bankruptcy filers who owe a relatively minimal amount of debt. Instead, you will likely speak one-on-one with your Trustee and no one else. Filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville can be a stressful process, but as long as you speak truthfully while under oath, speak respectfully to your Trustee and dress to make a favorable impression, you should be able to navigate this meeting without any problems.
Dealing with Your Car
If you own a car and are no longer making payments on your vehicle, the Bankruptcy Court will allow you to keep it, provided that an available exemptioncovers the full value of that car. However, you’ll be faced with a tough decision when filing bankruptcy in Jacksonville if you’re still making payments on your car or truck. Specifically, the Court will insist that you reaffirm your vehicle debt, redeem your car or surrender your car. If you surrender the car by returning it to your creditor, you’ll be freed from the obligation to make vehicle payments every month. Alternatively, the Court will likely allow you to keep making payments on your car, also known as reaffirming your debt, as long as you can explain to the Court how you’ll make your payments in-full and on-time and doing so won’t be a hardship. Your final option, redeeming the car, involves paying off the market value of the vehicle in a single payment.
Florida Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Jacksonville
Florida Means Test
Not everyone is eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville. To qualify, an individual or family must pass the Florida bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7, which involves specific income limits as applied to households of different sizes. Anyone who fails the Florida bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7 may seek the assistance of an experienced attorney so that they can explore alternative bankruptcy solutions.
Median Income Levels for Florida
Florida Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Florida
Florida Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Florida Bankruptcy Forms
All theforms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jacksonville are standard forms used across the U.S. You don’t need to worry about filling out any local, Florida bankruptcy forms because the Middle District doesn’t require any. The only District-specific form issue you need to be aware of involves filling out your Creditor Matrix following the District’s format.
You can keep all of your eligible property safe from being sold by your Trustee for the benefit of your creditors by taking advantage of exemptions. In Schedule C of your Jacksonville bankruptcy paperwork, you will identify which Florida bankruptcy exemptions protect your specific property. When filling out Schedule C, don’t worry about federal bankruptcy exemptions, because the Middle District only recognizes Florida bankruptcy exemptions.