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Hawaii Bankruptcy

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In a Nutshell

If your income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines as shown here, making it impossible for you to pay the court filing fee even if you were to be given some extra time after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii is filed, you can ask the court to waive your filing fee. Since any person filing bankruptcy in Hawaii can do so without a lawyer ("pro se"), you can file you can file your case for free as long as the court agrees to waive the $338 filing fee.

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.  
Updated November 6, 2021

Nothing can ruin the beauty all around you quite like the seemingly never-ending calls from creditors asking you for money you don't have. Nobody who ended up in this situation due to circumstances mostly outside of their immediate control, such as a job loss or a sudden illness, should have to live like that. That is why the United States Bankruptcy Code has evolved over the decades to provide the honest but unfortunate debtor a free start.

If you cringe each time the phone rings, worried it might be another creditor, you are doing the right thing by researching your options. Because, believe it or not, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii may be the most responsible thing you can do for yourself and your family. Keep in mind, also, that your creditors will get however much the Bankruptcy Code says they should get. More often than not, they don't get anything, because most folks finding themselves filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii don't have anything left to give.

How To File Bankruptcy in Hawaii for Free

If your income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines as shown here, making it impossible for you to pay the court filing fee even if you were to be given some extra time after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii is filed, you can ask the court to waive your filing fee. Since any person filing bankruptcy in Hawaii can do so without a lawyer ("pro se"), you can file you can file your case for free as long as the court agrees to waive the $338 filing fee.

Collect Your Hawaii Bankruptcy Documents

As you go through this process, you will see that there are two different kinds of bankruptcy documents everyone filing bankruptcy in Hawaii has to deal with. The bankruptcy forms that are filed with the court to officially commence your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii, and the supporting documents that you will need to make sure all relevant information is properly disclosed in those forms. Everyone filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii has to ensure they are eligible to do so based on the income they received in the 6 months before their case was filed. This means you will need each paycheck stub you received during that time. In addition, it is extremely important that you list all of your debts on your schedules. In order to make sure you are not inadvertently missing any, you should get a copy of your credit report from each one of the three reporting agencies. Other documents that will be helpful for your Hawaii bankruptcy are your two most recent income tax returns, your bank statements, and statements for any investment accounts you may have.

Take Credit Counseling

Even though it may not feel like it right now, there are actually several options to deal with your debt, though not all of them are right for everyone. In order to make sure that everyone filing bankruptcy in Hawaii knows what these options are, everyone has to take credit counseling before their bankruptcy case is filed. You can do this at any point in time in the 6 months before your filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. It's important not to take the course from just any provider, as it will not count if the provider was not previously approved of offer it to folks filing bankruptcy in Hawaii. An updated list of approved providers is published on the website of the United States Trustee. Unfortunately, the only location this course is offered in person is Honolulu, so most people filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii complete this requirement online or by phone. When done, you will be given a certificate of completion to file with the court along with the rest of your bankruptcy documents.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

The bankruptcy forms are the documents that are filed with the court. You can get a set of all the forms you have to complete for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii directly from the bankruptcy court. However, if you plan on filling the forms out yourself, it may be better to download everything you need from the website for the federal judiciary as those forms are all in fillable PDF format. If you can't afford a lawyer, but would like some assistance with completing the forms, check whether you are a candidate for filing bankruptcy in Hawaii through Upsolve. If you do hire a lawyer, then their office will collect your bankruptcy documents and ask you all the questions they need answered to prepare everything. Since you have to sign all documents under penalty of perjury, it is important to take your time to carefully review everything to be filed in your Hawaii bankruptcy case, to make sure that you are providing all of the requested information, without omitting anything. Remember, even though you might not necessarily want to be here, you are asking the court for relief under the Hawaii bankruptcy laws, and telling the whole story is part of getting that relief.

Get Your Filing Fee

If you are eligible to apply for a fee waiver, make sure you complete the necessary application before you head to the court to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. This will tell the clerk that you are seeking a waiver, and you won't have to answer any questions about whether you brought the $338 while you are at the clerk’s office filing your Hawaii bankruptcy case. If you can, you should collect this fee well before heading to the court, then bring it with you either in cash (exact change only) or in the form of a money order or cashier's check. You cannot pay the fee using your debit card or a personal check. If you can't afford to wait to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy until you've collected the full amount, maybe because a creditor is garnishing your wages, or because you need to file before a foreclosure can take place, you should prepare this application to pay the court filing fee in installments. This will give you up to 4 months to pay the full fee to the court after filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii. If you go this route, make sure you write down all your payment due dates and make your payments early, as even one missed payment can result in your case being thrown out.

Once you've collected your fee or made a game plan on how handle the fee (either by filing an application for a waiver or a request for a payment plan), it's time to print everything out for filing with the court. Unfortunately, people filing bankruptcy in Hawaii without a lawyer are not able to file their papers electronically and instead have to provide the court with a paper copy of everything. Since the forms needed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii all look very similar, the first item you should print is page 1 of the court's form package. It's a checklist that will help you track everything you are printing so you don't accidentally miss anything. The court only requires one full set of the forms, but it's still a good idea to print everything twice (or make a copy after printing, whichever is easier) so you have the same forms the court has in its file in your own records at home. Some of the information on the documents you are required to provide to the court when filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii is time sensitive, you should only print everything when you know you are ready to get your Hawaii bankruptcy case by filing everything with the court.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

You can file the documents necessary for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii either by visiting the courthouse in Honolulu or by sending everything to the court via mail. At this time, only lawyers are permitted to file documents in Hawaii bankruptcy cases electronically. If you are on Oahu, you can visit the clerk's office anytime between 8:30 am and 4:00 pm, except during the lunch hour. Detailed directions to the courthouse are available on the court's website. Please note, the court does not validate parking, so make sure you have a plan for where to park when you get there. It's recommended that you bring a copy of your bankruptcy forms that the clerk can stamp as filed while you are there. That way you know that the documents in your files are the same documents that the court has. If you do not live on Oahu, you don't have to travel there for the sole purpose of filing bankruptcy in Hawaii and can mail everything instead. You only have to mail one full set of the required forms. Some folks include a copy of the first page of their Voluntary Petition along with a self-addressed and stamped envelope so the court can return it to them once it's been stamped as received by the court.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

Once your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii has been filed, the court assigns a Chapter 7 trustee and schedules your creditors' meeting. The trustee does not represent a specific creditor, but instead acts a sort of third-party neutral, that has a duty to act in the best interest of all of your unsecured creditors. So, he does not represent you, but he does share your goal: To relieve you from the obligation to pay your (dischargeable) debts, and give your creditors what they are due under Hawaiian bankruptcy laws. You may receive a letter from your trustee requesting you to send certain information to their office shortly after filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii. If you do, make sure to carefully review it and follow all of the instructions, including any deadline by which the trustee’s office must receive your information. If you do not receive such a letter, you still have to provide a copy of your most recent income tax return and copies of every paycheck stub you have received in the preceding 60 days to the trustee's office at least 7 days before the your creditors' meeting is scheduled to take place. You can find the trustee's mailing address on the official notice you will receive from the Bankruptcy Court shortly after filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

In order to be eligible to receive a discharge order from the court, every person filing bankruptcy in Hawaii must complete a course on financial management. If you are in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii, it is the next step in the process after filing your case and, though there is no hard deadline to do so, before your creditors' meeting. While you may be familiar with most of the financial management tools and resources the course will cover, you will probably learn at least one or two things about managing your finances that will come in useful going forward. As with the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course 1, this course must be taken through one of the providers approved to offer it to folks filing bankruptcy in Hawaii. Once you have completed the course, make sure to file this certificate with the court. It tells the judge presiding over your case that you have fulfilled this requirement and, when the time comes, are ready to have your discharge entered.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

Your 341 meeting, also called your creditors' meeting, will take place some 20 to 60 days after your case is filed with the court. For most people it's the most stressful part of their entire case, until it's over, when they realize there was nothing to be worried about. Just a few minutes of preparation and a quick review of the bankruptcy documents and your bankruptcy forms, completed in preparation for filing bankruptcy in Hawaii, will help you feel the same. It's mostly a meeting with the trustee assigned to your case, so he can check your ID and proof of social security number and ask you some questions about your financial situation, while you are under oath and being recorded. In addition to your IDs, and any documents the trustee requested from you prior to the meeting that you have not mailed out already, you must bring your most recent paycheck stub, the most recent bank statement for each one of your accounts, as well as documentation related to the expenses claimed on your means test form, and any documentation you may have as a result of valuing any personal or real property, to the meeting. Technically, one or more of your creditors can attend the meeting to ask you some of their own questions, but that does not happen very often. Since this proceeding does not require the presence of a judge, it will be scheduled to take place in the county you lived in when you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. You will be provided with the location of your creditors meeting, along with the date and time is has been set for, in the same notice that tells you your trustee's contact information.

Dealing with Your Car

If you own a car, or any other type of vehicle at the time your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii is filed, you have to list is as an asset, regardless of whether it's worth a lot, or nothing at all. Whatever its value, as long as it is less than the exemption amount you are claiming for it, you are can keep the car even after filing Chapter 7 in Hawaii. If you are still making payments on your car, this is your opportunity to change that, or keep everything the same, whichever makes the most sense for someone in your situation. If you wish to get out of the loan you are in, you can either give the car back, or keep the car, but pay the creditor only what it is actually worth. Even if that is significantly less than the loan balance, which is what normally happens with car loans, you won't have to pay for it, because the difference is discharged as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. Finally, if everything works the way it is, you are happy with the car in its current condition, you have no problem making the car payment every month, and the balance left owing on the loan is not too much higher than what the car is worth, you can keep everything the same by entering into a reaffirmation agreement.

Hawaii Bankruptcy Means Test

The Hawaii Means Test for bankruptcy is the calculation that aims to make sure that only people who really need the significant relief granted by filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy are able to get it. It starts by comparing your household income to the median household income for a similar household. If you are below the income limits, you pass the Hawaii bankruptcy Means Test and are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. If not, you are only eligible to move forward under Chapter 7 if, after deducting certain pre-determined expenses, it is clear that you lack the disposable income to pay even a small amount of your debts.

Data on Median income levels for Hawaii

Hawaii Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2022
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Data on Poverty levels for Hawaii

Hawaii Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2022

Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.

Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)

Hawaii Bankruptcy Forms

You can access all the Hawaii Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms needed to file your case in the filing packet available on the court's website. In addition, the court has created certain local forms that may be needed at a later stage of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. All local forms can be downloaded as a fillable PDF for free.

District of Hawaii Requirements

The District of Hawaii requires you to file a certificate of service confirming that you mailed out certain documents after you amended (updated) specific creditor information in the bankruptcy forms originally filed to commence your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. Instead of filing a separate document for this, you can comply with this requirement by confirming service on part 3 of the Cover Sheet for Amendments.

Hawaii Bankruptcy Exemptions

The Aloha State is one of only a few places that allows people who have lived in the state for at least two years, to choose either the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the Hawaii bankruptcy exemptions to protect their assets. You are not allowed to mix and match, and if you are filing with your spouse, you are limited to use the same set of exemptions. In that case, however, each one of you is entitled to the full amount of the exemptions you were able to claim on Schedule C as filed in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii.

Hawaii Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost

The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer to handle a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii is, like most things on the Hawaiian Islands, above the national average. It ranges from $1,199 to $1,500, though most lawyers representing clients in Hawaii bankruptcy matters offer a free initial consultation.

  • Attorney cost estimate: $1,199 – $1,500

Legal aid in Hawaii is available on each island through the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii, which may be able to provide you with a pro bono (free) lawyer for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii. Each island has similar smaller nonprofits, such as Volunteer Legal Services Hawaii, that that provide free legal aid in Hawaii and can often assist low-income individuals with their Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Hawaii.

Legal Aid Society of Hawaii
(808) 536-4302
924 Bethel Street, Honolulu, HI 96813

Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

Hawaii Court Locations

1132 Bishop Street

1132 Bishop Street
1132 Bishop Street Honolulu, HI 96813

Hawaii Judges

Hawaii Bankruptcy Judges
DistrictJudge Name
District of HawaiiHon. Robert J. Faris
District of HawaiiHon. Lloyd King

Hawaii Trustees

Hawaii Trustees
TrusteeContact Info
Dane S. FieldDField@hawaii.rr.com
Elizabeth A. Kanetrustee@kanelawhawaii.com
(808) 525-6301
Richard A. Yanagiyanagichap7@gmail.com
(808) 599-0339

Written By:

Attorney Andrea Wimmer


Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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