Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated July 27, 2020
Living in one of the most commercialized cities in the nation is unquestionably expensive. Living in an expensive location can lead to tough financial challenges. For example, too many Americans have learned since the Great Recession of 2008 that a single accident, illness, injury, job loss or death in the family can lead to financial disaster, even when your family is hardworking, responsible, and dedicated to paying its creditors on time. Especially when the cost of living is high where you live, it can become difficult to make ends meet in the blink of an eye when a financial hardship changes your situation. Thankfully, there are solutions available for families struggling with debt payments they just can’t make, no matter how hard they work. If this scenario sounds like the circumstances your family is currently facing, Florida bankruptcy can eliminate your eligible debts in as few as 90 days. Getting out from underneath the crushing weight of outstanding debt by filing bankruptcy in Orlando will allow you the kind of fresh start that you’ve likely been dreaming of.
Although Orlando bankruptcy isn’t the best solution for every financial challenge, it’s a great option to consider if you’re running out of creative solutions to make ends meet. Especially if you don’t earn much income, you may particularly benefit from considering Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7 eliminates many kinds of debt while allowing you to hold on to most, if not all, of your property even though you can’t pay back your creditors. Not everyone is eligible to file for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 because it is a debt-relief solution designed to help low-income households specifically. But, if it’s possible that you could benefit from this process, it’s one that’s well worth learning more about and strong consideration.
Orlando Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
“Okay,” you may be saying. “Filing bankruptcy in Orlando sounds like a great option. But what if I can’t afford to file for bankruptcy? How much does an Orlando bankruptcy lawyer cost, anyway?” If you choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney in Orlando for a Chapter 7 filing and your finances aren’t particularly complex, you’ll be able to work with an attorney for around $1,000. However, it isn’t necessary to hire an attorney for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case if you feel comfortable following directions provided on all standard bankruptcy forms. Many low-income filers choose to avoid investing in the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer by filing their case themselves. The Chapter 7 process is so straightforward that this is one situation in which not investing in an attorney’s services may be an excellent idea as opposed to a disastrous one.
How to File Bankruptcy in Orlando, Florida for Free
Learn more about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando by reviewing the information below. Once you understand the process and the expectations of the Florida Bankruptcy Court, you can make an informed decision about whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be the right step forward toward managing your currently overwhelming debt.
Collect Your Orlando Bankruptcy Documents
To properly fill out the paperwork associated with filing bankruptcy in Orlando, you must first gather some financial documents related to your income, expenses, and debts. Tracking down these documents before you begin completing your paperwork for filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando will help you to fill out your forms accurately and efficiently. For example, you’ll need to provide the Court with a “Creditor Matrix” which is essentially a list of your creditors and the contact information for each of them. By obtaining a free copy of your credit report, you’ll have easy access to the information you’ll need to create your creditor matrix. Locating your most recent tax return, recent pay stubs, and recent bank and credit card statements will also help you provide the Court with accurate information about your income and expenses.
Take Credit Counseling
Before you can formally file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando, the Court requires you to attend a pre-filing credit counseling course approved by the Department of Justice for the Middle District of Florida. You may fulfill this requirement at any time in the six months leading up to the day that you formally submit an Orlando bankruptcy petition to the Court. This course will help to ensure that you understand all the debt-relief options available to you before you commit to filing bankruptcy in Orlando. Making an informed decision will help to confirm that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is (or isn’t) the best option for your family under the circumstances.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
No one knows how to file bankruptcy in Orlando without doing a little research first. Once you learn about the process of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando it becomes apparent that this process is usually so straightforward that filers can seek bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 without the assistance of an attorney. Each of the standard, federal forms required by the Court comes with detailed directions. As long as you answer questions about your finances truthfully, follow the directions provided, and submit any documentation the Court requests, you should be able to successfully navigate this process without investing in the services of a bankruptcy lawyer
Get Your Filing Fee
When you’re already struggling to make ends meet, it can be a bit frustrating to be told that filing bankruptcy in Orlando under Chapter 7 requires payment of a $335 filing fee. Thankfully, low-income filers who live below 150% of the poverty line generally qualify for a fee waiver if they formally ask the Orlando Bankruptcy Court to approve this request and prove that they can’t afford to pay the fee in installments. Those filers who don’t meet eligibility requirements for a fee waiver may formally ask the Court to approve a fee installment plan to make paying the fee more manageable by making payments over time.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When filing for Orlando bankruptcy, you can fill out your paperwork online but you can’t submit it via the Internet. Instead, you must print your forms out before you can submit them to the Court. If you don’t have easy access to a printer, consider visiting a local branch of theOrange County Library System. There are 16 local branches available to you, so this may be the most convenient option for you can’t print your documents at home or at work. Make sure that you print your forms single-sided. Printing double-sided is environmentally conscious and cheaper than printing single-sided, but the Court won’t accept double-sided forms.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The process of formally filing your bankruptcy paperwork may be completed via postal mail or in-person. Orlando is part of the Middle District of Florida and you can conveniently file your bankruptcy forms at the courthouse located at 400 West Washington Street. Parking near this courthouse can be tricky, so it’s often helpful to research theparking options provided by the City before visiting this facility. One of the benefits of filing bankruptcy in Orlando in person is that you can have the clerk stamp an extra set of your bankruptcy forms for your records. Also, filing in person ensures that your bankruptcy case progresses more quickly than it would if you mailed your forms in as it allows you to fix any issues with your forms immediately.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Filing bankruptcy in Orlando is an official legal process, so the Court needs to investigate and verify information associated with your case. One of the ways it accomplishes this goal is by appointing a Trustee to manage some of this process. In addition to possibly selling any non-exempt assetsyou may have (to partially pay back your creditors), your Trustee will look over some of your financial information and conduct a brief interview with you and any of your creditors who want to attend that meeting. To prepare for your 341 meeting, your Trustee will request that you forward some personal documentation, like tax returns, pay stubs and divorce decrees, once they have been appointed to your case. Make sure to forward this information promptly so that your case can progress as quickly as possible.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Remember when you had to take a pre-filing credit counseling course before your bankruptcy case could proceed? At this point in the Orlando bankruptcy process, it’s time to take a debtor education course approved by the Department of Justice for Chapter 7 filers in the Middle District of Florida. Whereas your credit counseling course helped you determine whether bankruptcy was the best option for you, your debtor education course will help to ensure that your financial situation remains manageable after your bankruptcy process is complete. Just like your credit counseling course, you can take your debtor education course conveniently online.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Many individuals filing bankruptcy in Orlando become stressed when preparing to attend their mandatory 341 meeting with their Trustee and creditors. If you’re worried about this meeting, take some deep breaths. Most of the time, creditors don’t show up to these interviews with Chapter 7 filers because their debts are relatively minimal and uncomplicated. Once you arrive at your meeting, you’ll be asked to present your photo ID and an official version of your Social Security card. You’ll then be placed under oath and asked questions about your finances by your Trustee for roughly 10-20 minutes. Filing for bankruptcy may be stressful, but as long as you are honest and respectful, your 341 meeting won’t be a significant source of that stress.
Dealing with Your Car
If you are still making payments on a car, you’ll need to figure out whether you’re in a position to keep paying down your debt or you could benefit from returning your car to your creditor. Unless you canredeem the car by paying its full market value in one lump payment, the Court will insist that youreaffirm your debt orsurrender your car when filing bankruptcy in Orlando. Only if you own your car outright and an exemption covers the full value of your vehicle will the Court avoid interfering in regards to your vehicle ownership. Surrendering your car is generally a good idea if you don’t know how you can possibly pay your vehicle debt per the terms of your agreement from now on. However, if your family depends on your car and you believe you can reliably honor the terms of your car loan contract after filing bankruptcy in Orlando, you can reaffirm that debt. You’ll have to be able to convince the Court that your payments will be made reliably until your car loan is paid in full and that doing so won’t be an undue hardship on you.
Florida Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Orlando
Florida Means Test
Everyone hoping to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando needs to meet certain income limits to be considered eligible for debt-relief under this chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be evaluated by the Florida bankruptcy Means Test. The Florida bankruptcy Means Test assures the Court that due to your income, household size and expenses, you can’t reliably complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan over time. If you don’t pass the Means Test for Chapter 7, an experienced attorney can help you explore alternative bankruptcy options.
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
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Orlando, all the forms you need are standardized. Meaning, the Middle District of Florida doesn’t require you to fill out any special, local Florida bankruptcy forms that make preparing your case more complex. There is one formatting exception, however. When you complete your Creditor Matrix, ensure that it is structured according to the District’s specific format.
Exemptions allow individuals who are filing for Orlando bankruptcy to keep eligible property safe from being sold by a Trustee to pay back creditors. When you fill out your Court-mandated forms, you will specify which Florida bankruptcy exemptions protect your property. You won’t need to worry about any federal bankruptcy exemption issues because the Sunshine State only honors Florida bankruptcy exemptions.