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Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
You don’t mention Fayetteville, North Carolina without mentioning Fort Bragg and Pope Army Airfield. Home to over 50,000 active-duty military personnel, Fort Bragg and Fayetteville is synonymous with military families. In fact, in September of 2008, Fayetteville became the world’s first sanctuary for soldiers and their families. However, despite pumping over $4.5 billion a year into the region’s economy, unemployment in Fayetteville as of March 2019, was 5.2%. A figure that was higher than both the national average of 3.8% and the North Carolina average of 4%. Meaning, many individuals and families are still victims of a broken financial system. Crippling debt and unpaid bills can damage your ability to find employment and deny you access to financial products. Chapter 7 bankruptcy can free you from debt and eliminate bills you can no longer afford to pay. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal lifeline mandated by federal law that gives you the ability to eliminate bills you can no longer afford to pay. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville, federal bankruptcy law gives you “sanctuary” from your creditors. The moment your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition is filed, you are protected by an automatic stay that stops all collection actions from being taken against you. Once the stay is in effect, you get a chance to “make your case” to the Court and request a legal discharge of all your dischargeable debt. For honest but unfortunate individuals with less than $10,000 in property, who don’t own a home or other high-value assets, this discharge is granted 99% of the time. If you own your home and want to catch up on your mortgage, or make too much to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville, you can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to get relief. Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes your debt, so that you pay only as much as you can over a period of three to five years, then get the balance discharged.
Fayetteville Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
It will cost you between $1,100 and $1,200 to hire an attorney to represent you in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville. An attorney can be an excellent investment for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you can afford one. And if you are considering a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will almost certainly want to hire an attorney as they are much more complex. If the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Fayetteville is something you can afford, don’t be afraid to ask if they offer a free consultation. Most attorneys will gladly give you a free initial consultation and only charging you for their services after you hire them. A free consultation allows the attorney to get the facts and details pertaining to your case, and not only gives you a more accurate estimate of what they would charge to represent you, but it also it also gives you the chance to ask questions about the filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville.
How to File Bankruptcy in Fayetteville, North Carolina for Free
Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville on your own is by no means an easy process. North Carolina is unique among most of the states in the country when it comes to how it handles Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases. However, it is possible and this guide will not only give you a detailed overview of how to file bankruptcy in Fayetteville without an attorney, but it will direct you to several resources provided by the Bankruptcy Court itself, to help you do just that! Despite this fact, if you get confused or need advice on the particular facts of your case, anywhere along the way, do not hesitate to seek the assistance of an attorney or contact an area legal aid organization.
Collect Your Fayetteville Bankruptcy Documents
The documents you need to complete your Fayetteville bankruptcy can be divided into four categories: financial documents, ownership documents, identification, and bills. The financial documents include any documents showing how much earn, how much money you have and any money you will receive in the future. At a minimum, you should collect your pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and 401k or pension statements. You should also collect any ownership documents you have for such things as your car, your home, a timeshare, a safe deposit box, or rental property. Whether any of these assets are generating income or not, you must provide documentation of your ownership. Personal identification will be required when you attend your creditors’ meeting. Picture identification such as a driver’s license, state identification card or passport is satisfactory but it’s very important that you also bring your original social security card to verify your social security number. Finally, you need your bills and collection notices. It’s in your own best interest to locate as many of your bills as you can. Even old charged-off accounts should be located and listed as a creditor in your Fayetteville bankruptcy. Remember, if you forget to list a creditor, they can’t be held responsible for continuing to contact you after you have filed your bankruptcy until they are notified about your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville.
Take Credit Counseling
Everyone who files Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville must complete an approved pre-bankruptcy credit counseling course. In many states, this course is administered by the Office of the United States Trustee and many local or online credit counseling agencies can offer you the course and provide you with a certificate of completion when you finish. However, North Carolina is one of two states that does not participate in the United States Trustee program so you must choose a provider from the list maintained by the Bankruptcy Administrator for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Many of the providers on the list are not located in North Carolina but have been approved by the Bankruptcy Administrator to offer the course to folks filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville. The certificate of completion you will receive at the end of the course must be filed with your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition when you first to go court to file your North Carolina bankruptcy case.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
All of the forms you will submit to the Court to start your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville are often collectively referred to as a petition. Some of the forms that make up the petition are referred to as schedules. Most of the schedules contain two or more sections. In total, a standard bankruptcy petition has about 60 pages. The number of pages in your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition will contain may be higher if you have a lot of creditors. You can obtain the forms you need to put together your petition from the website of the United States Courts. The specific forms you are required to submit to the Bankruptcy Court are listed on a checklist in the Court’s Pro Se Guide. Once you have collected all of your bankruptcy documents, you should have all of the information you’ll need to fill out the forms in preparation for filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville. In general, you will be asked about your finances, such as how much you earn and what property or investments you own. You will also be asked about your debts, such as who you owe, how much you owe them and what kind of debt is it. Finally, you will have to tell the Court about your current financial situation, such as “Are you being sued? Have your wages been garnished? Are you being evicted?” Answer all of these questions thoroughly and truthfully. You can’t “skip” forms or questions because you feel they don’t apply to you. If your response to a question is “No” or “None” then you must indicate that on the form. A good rule of thumb when completing your forms for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville is “a little attention to detail, goes a long way!”
Get Your Filing Fee
The current cost to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville is $335. This fee consists of a $245 filing fee, $75 administrative fee and a $15 Trustee fee. Unless you are granted a fee waiver or request to pay the fee in installments, the entire fee must be paid at once. If you request a fee waiver, and it’s granted, the entire fee will be waived. Fee waivers are granted to individuals who earn less than 150% of the poverty level and can’t afford to pay the fee in installments even after filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville. However, unless you are separated, if you’re married, your spouse’s income will be taken into consideration when your fee waiver request is reviewed. Requests to pay the filing fee in installments, on the other hand, are usually granted as a matter of course and you are not required to disclose your or your spouse’s income on the request. Keep in mind, the request can’t ask for more than four installments and the last installment must be paid no later than 120 days after you file your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
You should print your entire Fayetteville bankruptcy petition when you have completed all of your bankruptcy forms. You will need a copy of the petition for yourself, and should print that as well, unless you prefer to make a copy of the original forms containing your signature later. Sign each page where required, though, not that all pages contain a signature line. Only print on one side of each page. If you don’t have a printer, or don’t want to print your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition at home or at work, the Cumberland County Public Library offers black and white printing for $0.10 per page. The Headquarters Branch of the library is located at 300 Maiden Lane, Fayetteville, NC 28301-5032. To print, you will need to purchase a $2.00 print card, which will come loaded with $1.50 credit.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina handles all Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases for Cumberland County and the City of Fayetteville. You must file your original, signed, Fayetteville bankruptcy petition with the Court. The courthouse is located at 301 Green Street, Fayetteville, NC 28302. The Court is a two-minute drive from the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and a two-minute drive from the Cumberland County Library. It’s open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on federal holidays. You must bring your certificate of Credit Counseling together with your $335 filing fee, or your request to pay the fee in installments (or to have it waived) when you go to the Court to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville. You should also bring picture identification in case it’s needed to pass through security or to file your case.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Individuals filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville must email the Bankruptcy Administrator for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, a copy of their pay stubs for the last 60 days and their most recent federal tax return, no later than fourteen days after filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville. These documents should be emailed to: email@example.com, the subject line of the email should include the full case number assigned to your case, your last name, and the division (Wilson or Raleigh) your Fayetteville bankruptcy case has been assigned to. If you don’t have your pay stubs or your most recent tax return, you have to complete this statement and email it to the Bankruptcy Administrator instead. If you don’t have access to email, and are not represented by an attorney, you may provide the documents to the Bankruptcy Administrator by mailing or delivering them to the Bankruptcy Administrator at 434 Fayetteville Street, Suite 640, Raleigh, NC 27601.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Once you have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville and received a case number, you can take your second bankruptcy-related credit counseling course. This course, which is known as the Post-Petition Credit Counseling Bankruptcy Course by credit counseling agencies, but also called the Financial Management Course by the Court, costs between $25 and $50. The course covers several aspects of personal financial management, from creating and sticking to a budget, to understanding how credit works, dealing with financial emergencies, and learning how to avoid filing bankruptcy again in the future. Folks filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville must take the course from an approved provider on the list of approved credit counseling agencies maintained by the Bankruptcy Administrator for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The course typically lasts two to three hours and if you take it online or over the telephone you must pass a test to be awarded a certificate of completion. You must file the certificate of completion with the Court before you can be granted a discharge.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
Typically, other than when you file your petition, your only contact with the Court will be at something known as a 341 meeting of creditors. The creditors’ meeting is an informal meeting between you and your court-appointed Trustee. You are required to attend this meeting and it’s usually scheduled between 20 and 40 days after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville has been filed. At the meeting, the Trustee will swear you in, verify your identity and ask you some questions regarding your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition. If any of your creditors show up, they will also be allowed to ask you questions. However, most creditors choose not to attend. You are required to bring your last two months' pay stubs, and your most recently filed tax return to the meeting. You should also bring your copy of the petition to refer to when answering the Trustee’s questions. In Fayetteville, the meeting will take place at the Federal Building on 301 Green Street. You’ll find out the date and time of the creditors’ meeting in the official Court notice of your Chapter 7 filing you will receive from the court shortly after filing your North Carolina bankruptcy. In most cases, the meeting will last no longer than fifteen minutes. The Court has a video of a typical creditors meeting on its website.
Dealing with Your Car
What happens with your car when you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville depends on the selection you make on your Statement of Intentions. The Statement of Intentions is a form you must complete if you have any secured assets. Secured assets are property, like cars, with liens on them. These liens allow the lender to take the property back, in the event you stop paying on your loan. Bankruptcy does not take away this right. As a result, if you want to keep a car that you are still paying on, you must elect to do so on your Statement of Intentions no later than 30 days after you file your Fayetteville bankruptcy case. You are given three options on the form for each property listed on the form. The first option is to surrender the car. Surrendering the car is simply giving it back to the lender, at an agreed-upon place and time, or simply letting them come pick it up. The second option is to redeem the car. Redeeming the car means paying the lender the “market value” of the car. Even if the car is worth less than you owe on it, if you pay the lender its market value, you get to keep the car and the loan is discharged. However, you must pay this amount all at once. The last option is to reaffirm the debt. If you don’t have the money to redeem your car, you must reaffirm the loan if you want to keep the car even after filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville. You reaffirm your loan by entering into a “reaffirmation agreement” with your lender. This reaffirmation agreement is a legally binding agreement to keep paying the loan owed on the car, even after your bankruptcy. In exchange, the lender agrees not to take the car back. The reaffirmation agreement has to be submitted to the Court and approved by the judge at a hearing. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina has a “reaffirmation agreement packet” that you must use to submit the agreement to the Court. You can view a video of a typical “reaffirmation agreement hearing” on the Court’s website.
North Carolina Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Fayetteville
North Carolina Means Test
Means Testing was introduced to Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceedings in 2005 to counter what the federal government believed to be bankruptcy abuse. Means Testing is intended to prohibit individuals who earn enough money to be able to pay their bills from filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. TheNorth Carolina bankruptcy Means Test compares thehousehold income of an individual filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville, to the median household income for a family of the same size in North Carolina. If your household income exceeds the median,you have to complete the more detailed analysis of the North Carolina bankruptcy means test to find out if you qualify to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville. If not, the so-called presumption of abuse prevents you from filing a Chapter 7 case without additional special circumstances to justify an exception.
Median Income Levels for North Carolina
North Carolina Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for North Carolina
North Carolina 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)|
North Carolina Bankruptcy Forms
You can obtain the forms you need to complete your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville from the website of the United States Courts. At a minimum, you will need the Voluntary Petition, Summary of your Assets and Liabilities, Schedules A through J, Statement of your Financial Affairs, Statement of Intention, Statement About Your Social Security Numbers, Chapter 7 Statement About Your Monthly Income, Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation and Declaration About an Individual’s Debtor Schedules. If you believe you will need an accommodation to pay your filing fee, you will also need the Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments and Application to Have Filing Fee Waived. If you have questions about what forms you are required to include in your Fayetteville bankruptcy petition, take a look at the Court’s “Pro Se Guide.”
North Carolina Exemptions
The single biggest factor in determining what property you get to keep when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Fayetteville are the North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions. Without exemptions, every individual who filed bankruptcy in Fayetteville would be required to sell or “liquidate” all of their property to pay their creditors. Exemptions protect your real and personal property from that fate as long as the property doesn’t exceed a certain value set by the law. Knowing whether the property you own is exempt before filing bankruptcy in Fayetteville is very important, because once you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy you can’t simply “cancel it” if you change your mind. Only the Court can give you permission to dismiss or withdraw a bankruptcy petition once it has been filed. Fortunately, North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions are fairly generous and on par with federal bankruptcy exemptions, which are not available in North Carolina. In addition, if you are filing with a spouse, those amounts are doubled! For example, the North Carolina bankruptcy exemptions allow you to protect up to $35,000 worth of equity in a home that is your primary residence. If you are married this doubles to $70,000 worth of equity that you can protect!