Written by Attorney Eva Bacevice.
Updated August 17, 2020
Back in 2005, Congress made a number of changes to the bankruptcy system. There was a lot of concern that people were filing Chapter 7 cases when they could afford to pay some or all of their bills. To make certain that only people who truly needed to file a Chapter 7 were able to do so, they created the Means Test. There are two ways to pass the bankruptcy Means Test in Georgia. First, you can qualify immediately by showing that your current monthly income (which is an average of all household income from the last 6 months) is less than the Georgia median income for your family size. If you do not immediately qualify from the income cutoffs, there is still another option. The second way to pass the bankruptcy Means Test in Georgia is to go through the full calculation, which will examine both your income and reasonable monthly expenses. If, after going through the calculation, there is little to no disposable (or remaining) income, then you can go ahead and file your Georgia bankruptcy under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.
Georgia Median Income Levels
Georgia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
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Discharge in Bankruptcy for Georgia
A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as a “fresh start” because in the end, once you receive your discharge, most (or all) of your debts are discharged and you are no longer responsible for paying them. This is what allows debtors who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate their debts. It is important to note that some debts, like child support, are non-dischargeable, but if the bulk of your debt is unsecured (like credit cards and medical bills) there should be a huge weight off your shoulders when you receive your Georgia bankruptcy discharge. So long as you have properly filed all of your paperwork and completed all of the necessary tasks in your Georgia bankruptcy, the discharge order should be issued approximately 60 days after your only court hearing, the Meeting of Creditors. Upsolve can partner with you every step of the way to help make this happen.
Georgia Means Test Calculator
If you find yourself in a situation where you need to go through a full Chapter 7 Means Test to determine if you can file a Chapter 7, you will need to use a current Georgia Means Test calculator. It is very important to have the most up to date information on what amounts you can claim for your reasonable monthly expenses to allow for the greatest opportunity to qualify for a Chapter 7. The result could depend on a seemingly small difference. You will find many Means Test calculator options online but there is no guarantee that all the figures are up to date. Upsolve’s mean test calculator for Georgia (and all other states) is current to the day, so you can rest assured that you are using the most current information. Upsolve can also help you through the other parts of the bankruptcy process to put you on the path to discharge.
What Happens If I Fail The Means Test for Georgia
So what if you go through the full Means Test calculation and do not qualify to file your Georgia bankruptcy under Chapter 7? The first thing we recommend is to go through the full Means Test calculation again to confirm you added all of your reasonable monthly expenses. Keep in mind that you can include things that maybe you only buy once or twice a year (like school supplies for your kids) so long as you average your total spending over 12 months. Also, read through it carefully to make sure you did not miss any categories - like child care or contributing contributions to the care of household or family members. Sometimes enough of these small changes could make the difference in qualifying. You should also think about if there are any expected changes on the horizon. Are you or your partner pregnant? That will increase your family size which changes the equation. Or perhaps you are considering a divorce in which case you (and your soon-to-be ex) may both qualify separately even if you do not together, especially when you factor in two households. Is there a possibility that you are facing a layoff? Or is your work seasonal? Maybe you work on the event staff for the Atlanta Braves - if so think about when you are trying to file. If it’s right after baseball season ends, or right after you’re laid off, your average monthly income will be based on the past 6 months of regular employment, whereas two months from now, that average will go down. If you are able to qualify in these circumstances, then Upsolve can help you through the rest of the process for your Georgia bankruptcy. If none of these scenarios apply or still do not get your income down enough it will be time to consider exploring a Chapter 13 bankruptcy as an alternative.