Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 30, 2020
Living in Jersey City has its perks but being so close to New York City can be expensive. Unfortunately, it’s gut-wrenchingly easy for anyone living in an expensive location to fall on hard times. If you can’t pay your creditors back and are unsure of how you are ever going to get “back on your feet” financially, you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy, which can erase your debts so that you can start building a stronger financial future. Not so long ago, filing bankruptcy was stigmatized as the easy way out. However, the Great Recession taught Americans just how precarious everyone’s financial circumstances are. Because Americans increasingly appreciate the benefits of bankruptcy, seeking debt relief no longer carries the stigma it once did. As a result, filing bankruptcy in Jersey City now acts as a valuable resource for many residents.
You may be wondering if filing a Jersey City bankruptcy is the best way to manage your family’s difficult financial situation. Before you can make an informed decision about whether bankruptcy is the best option available and which kind of bankruptcy may work best under the circumstances, you’ll need to look over your finances. Many individuals who are struggling financially hesitate to examine their finances closely, because it’s stressful to do so. However, you can’t make an informed decision until you know exactly what your income, expenses, debts, and assets consist of. If you make a good living but could benefit from lower monthly debt payments, you may want to file bankruptcy under Chapter 13. This process reorganizes your debt and lowers your monthly debt payments. If you don’t make much money, you’ll benefit even more significantly from filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City. This process eliminates many kinds of debt so that you no longer have to pay your creditors back.
Jersey City Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
Filing any kind of legal action can be scary and potentially expensive. As a result, you may be worried about the question, “How much does a Jersey City bankruptcy lawyer cost?” Hiring bankruptcy assistance in Jersey City to help with your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case may cost anywhere from $965-$1,550. However, filing bankruptcy in Jersey City under Chapter 7 doesn’t always require a lawyer. Unless your finances are complex or you own a lot of expensive property, you only need to invest in the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer if you want some extra help. If you believe you could benefit from speaking with a lawyer and are considering hiring one, know that many offer free consultations.
How to File Bankruptcy in Jersey City, New Jersey for Free
If you’d like to learn more about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City, please consider the following information about completing bankruptcy forms, attending credit counseling, and managing the overall New Jersey bankruptcy process. If you’re a part of a lower-income household, you’ll likely be able to complete this process without having to spend money on a bankruptcy lawyer.
Collect Your Jersey City Bankruptcy Documents
One of the biggest challenges associated with filing bankruptcy in Jersey City involves completing a lot of forms. To be considered for debt relief under Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City, the Court will need to understand your financial situation. To do that, it will need to examine your income and household expenses. To give the Court an accurate accounting of your income and expenses, you’ll need to reference the last few months of your pay stubs and bank statements. Similarly, you’ll want to contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies for a free copy of your current credit report. This form will allow you to give the Court an accurate list of all your debts and creditors associated with those debts.
Take Credit Counseling
To ensure that you understand all debt-relief options available before you commit to filing Jersey City bankruptcy under Chapter 7, the Court requires you to participate in a pre-filing credit counseling course. Qualified credit counselors will help to make sure that you’re making an informed decision before moving forward with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City. When researching pre-filing credit counseling courses, be sure that the one you choose has been approved by the Department of Justice for the District of New Jersey. The Court insists that you attend an approved course in the six months before your case can be filed and attending an unapproved course will not “count” towards this requirement.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Unless you are hiring an attorney or working with Upsolve, you may feel overwhelmed by how much paperwork is involved in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City. This feeling is normal, as filing bankruptcy is a big step and you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything right. When thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Jersey City, you should know that that the paperwork that the Court requires is usually straightforward and comes with detailed instructions and directions. To successfully complete this paperwork, you will simply need to follow these directions carefully, take your time, and make sure you don’t miss any steps. If you feel that you can follow directions and explain your financial situation clearly, you shouldn’t need a lawyer’s help to finish up this paperwork.
Get Your Filing Fee
Filing bankruptcy in Jersey City costs $335 for a Chapter 7 petition. This might not seem like an overwhelming financial burden to everyone. However, it may be impossible to come up with even this amount if you’re already struggling to put food on the table. If you can’t pay the fee all at once, the Court will let you pay the fee in installments, assuming you file the required application to do so. If the fee remains so overwhelming that you can’t pay it in installments even after you are no longer paying your creditors, you may qualify for a fee waiver. If your fee waiver request is granted, you’ll be able to file your Jersey City bankruptcy case for free.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
Filing Jersey City bankruptcy may not be done online by anyone other than New Jersey bankruptcy lawyers. The Court requires physical paper copies of all required paperwork. Don’t panic if you don’t have a printer at home. Some local businesses and national chain stores will print your forms for a nominal fee. Another easy, and potentially cheaper way to print bankruptcy forms is to visit a local branch of the Jersey City Free Public Library. With 10 local library branches to choose from in Jersey City, this may be the most convenient option for you. Plus, if you need to bring kids along when you print out your forms, the library provides many distractions to keep them occupied while you get down to business
Go to Court to File Your Forms
You probably live in Jersey City partially because you enjoy its proximity to New York City. You’re therefore probably used to commuting back and forth to get wherever you want to go. Jersey City is located in the District of New Jersey and the courthouse where you’ll need to file your bankruptcy forms is located in Newark. Therefore, you will need to travel a bit to file your paperwork, but you’re probably so used to commuting to the City that this won’t phase you at all. If you can’t make it to Newark during the Court’s business hours, you can mail everything to the Court instead. Keep in mind though, if you file by mail, you won’t know when your New Jersey bankruptcy has successfully been started right away. When filing bankruptcy in Jersey City at the courthouse in Newark, make sure to bring along two copies of all of your forms and a valid photo ID.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
The next step in your bankruptcy process involves submitting your paperwork to your Trustee. When the Court processes your initial paperwork, it will appoint a Trustee to oversee parts of your bankruptcy process. It turns out that filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City does involve doing a little bit more than just filling out a lot of paperwork. For example, your Trustee is tasked with conducting a meeting between you and your creditors later in the bankruptcy process. To prepare for this meeting, your Trustee will need to view copies of your paperwork. Once the Court has your paperwork and has assigned a Trustee to your case, it’s time to send supporting documents, like pay stubs, to your Trustee. Your Trustee will most likely let you know which documents you need to forward a couple of weeks after your New Jersey bankruptcy is filed with the Court.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
Now that your Jersey City bankruptcy case is almost complete, it’s time to take a debtor education courseapproved by the Department of Justice for bankruptcy filers in your district. The purpose of this course is to give you tips, tricks, and tools you can use to build a stronger financial future. Although filing for bankruptcy in Jersey City is straightforward and not too difficult, you likely never want to have to go through this process again. Your debtor education course can help ensure that you never have to. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is providing you with a fresh start. Now it’s up to you to take advantage of it.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
One your Trustee has examined your bankruptcy paperwork, you’ll be required to attend a meeting with your Trustee and any creditors who opt to show up to this meeting. Before your debts can be erased by the Court, the Court seeks assurances that the information you’ve provided in your paperwork is correct. Having you answer questions during your 341 meeting helps the Court secure the assurances it seeks. Like a witness in a courtroom, you’ll be placed under oath and you’ll be asked some simple questions about your financial situation. Make sure to tell the truth or you could land in serious legal trouble. This meeting may understandably seem a little scary, but it’s generally a pretty predictable and low-stress affair. You can breathe a sigh of relief when it’s over; you’ve now done everything that is potentially tough related to filing bankruptcy in Jersey City.
Dealing with Your Car
Jersey City isn’t the most pedestrian-friendly city. As a result, many Jersey City residents hesitate to file for bankruptcy because they’re worried about how filing bankruptcy in Jersey City will impact their vehicle ownership. There are 3 possible ways bankruptcy could affect your car. If you own a vehicle outright and would like to keep it, the Court will let you keep it, as long as the available exemptions cover the full value of that vehicle. If you’re still paying off the purchase of your car to a creditor, the Court will give you the option to reaffirm your debt,redeem the car orsurrender your car. Surrendering your car and returning it to your creditor frees you from debt. If you want to keep your car, the Court will want to know how you plan to pay your creditor, on-time and according to the terms of your loan. Alternatively, you can pay off the market value of the car in a lump sum and discharge the remaining balance by doing a redemption.
New Jersey Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Jersey City
New Jersey Means Test
When considering your request for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City, the Court will subject you to the New Jersey bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7. The New Jersey bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7 examines a household’s size, income, and expenses to determine whether it can reliably pay its creditors over time under a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Chapter 7 eliminates the rights of most creditors to collect on their debts, so it’s in the government’s interest to only let those who clearly need this relief apply for it. As part of the test, your income must fall within certain income limits set by New Jersey to pass, or be so low that you don’t have any disposable income left after paying your necessary living expenses. If you are part of a lower-income household, you are likely to pass the Means Test; if you don’t pass, you can explore alternative bankruptcy options, including filing bankruptcy under Chapter 13, with the assistance of an attorney.
Median Income Levels for New Jersey
New Jersey Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for New Jersey
New Jersey Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2020
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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New Jersey Bankruptcy Forms
Before you can ask the Court for debt relief, you’ll need to print off and complete all required New Jersey bankruptcy forms to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jersey City. The Court doesn’t require any additional local forms for Chapter 7 filers beyond the standard forms you need to submit, but if you want to request a fee waiver, a fee installment plan or need other specialized documents, the Court provides these optional forms on its website.
New Jersey Exemptions
Everyone who files for Jersey City bankruptcy can keep eligible property safe from creditors by using exemptions. When New Jersey bankruptcy exemptions are applied to your property, your Trustee isn’t allowed to sell that property for your creditors’ benefit; you get to keep it. If you are a member of a low-income household, you should be able to keep most or all of your property safe from your creditors once you specify which federal or New Jersey bankruptcy exemptions apply to all the property you have. A specific form in your bankruptcy packet known as “Schedule C” will allow you to specify your exemptions after you decide whether to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions or the New Jersey bankruptcy exemptions.