Written by the Upsolve Team.
Updated September 29, 2020
Perhaps you’ve been struggling for years to make ends meet by working multiple jobs and cutting costs but your debt keeps growing. Or perhaps a major life event, like the loss of a loved one, a severe medical condition or a job loss sent your finances into a tailspin you can’t seem to recover from no matter how hard you try. No matter what the reason, if you’re thinking about filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati, you should know that you’re not alone. Especially since the Great Recession of 2008, more and more Buckeyes understand both how precarious everyone’s finances truly are and that filing for Ohio bankruptcy offers individuals and families the opportunity to rebuild a solid financial foundation. There are two kinds of bankruptcy that might be relevant to your situation at this time. If you make a decent living but you can’t manage your monthly debt payments, filing under Chapter 13 will allow the Court to restructure these debts so that your monthly debt payments are lowered significantly. If you meet the requirements of a 3-5 year repayment plan, the remainder of your eligible debts will be erased. However, if you don’t earn much income and you don’t own much unusually expensive property, you may especially benefit from filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. This process eliminates many kinds of debt in as few as three months without requiring filers to participate in a repayment plan.
You may be hesitant to file for Cincinnati bankruptcy for any number of reasons. You may be concerned about the cost of filing or hiring an attorney. You may wonder if you’re up to the stresses of filing legal action given everything else going on in your life. You may even feel guilty for needing to take advantage of bankruptcy relief in the first place. Remember though, you’re not alone. Millions of hardworking and responsible Americans have stood where you stand and have benefited significantly from the opportunities that filing for bankruptcy protection provides. Consider learning more about the process before you make a decision either way. You will almost certainly be very surprised by how inexpensive, straightforward and beneficial the bankruptcy process can be.
Cincinnati Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
Some people think that filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati isn’t an option available to them because the cost of hiring bankruptcy assistance in Cincinnati for help with a Chapter 7 case runs between $690 - $1,200. This cost is simply too much for many low-income filers to absorb. However, the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer isn’t an expense that most low-income filers must find a way to absorb. Because the Chapter 7 process mostly used by low-income filers, the Court understands how few of these individuals can afford to hire an attorney to help them with their case. As a result, it has tried to keep the process straightforward and accessible. You only need to worry about the answer to the question “How much does a Cincinnati bankruptcy lawyer cost?” if you don’t qualify to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or your finances are particularly complex. Otherwise, you can confidently complete this process on your own without incurring the expense of retaining a lawyer’s services.
How to File Bankruptcy in Cincinnati, Ohio for Free
If you’d like to learn more about whether filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati might be a good option for you and your family, please review the information below. Once you understand how the Ohio bankruptcy process works, you’ll be able to make whatever informed decision best fits your unique financial circumstances.
Collect Your Cincinnati Bankruptcy Documents
When filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati, the Court will ask you about what you earn, what you own, what you owe, and how you spend your money. It’s important not to respond to these questions with estimates pulled out of thin air. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati is an official, legal process so the Court will expect you to be as accurate as you can be in your reporting. The most helpful thing you can do to prepare for answering the Court’s questions accurately and effectively involves gathering personal financial documents that you can reference when completing your paperwork. By requesting a copy of your current credit report, tracking down recent pay stubs, pulling up recent bank statements, and finding your latest tax return, you’ll have access to necessary information as you fill out all of your required forms.
Take Credit Counseling
You may be under the impression that filing for Cincinnati bankruptcy only involves completing and submitting your bankruptcy forms. In reality, the Court also requires you to participate in two educational courses and attend a meeting with the Trustee assigned to your case. You’ll need to participate in the first educational course before you submit your bankruptcy petition to the Court because this course is a pre-filing requirement. You’ll choose a credit counseling course that has been approved by the Department of Justice for residents of the Southern District of Ohio. Once you learn more about your debt relief options by participating in this course, you’ll be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
For better and for worse, most of the time and energy you’ll invest in preparing your bankruptcy case will be spent filling out paperwork. This makes sense, given that the Court needs to know all about your finances when you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati and the most effective way to communicate this information is to write it down. When you’re thinking about how to file bankruptcy in Cincinnati as efficiently as you can, just remember that if you stay focused and follow directions carefully, you can complete this paperwork in a short amount of time. These documents may appear highly-technical at first glance, but you’ll see that they’re straightforward once you begin to work through them.
Get Your Filing Fee
The filing fee required of individuals seeking bankruptcy relief under Chapter 7 is $338. This amount may not seem like an overwhelming financial burden to everyone. However, it may be impossible to take on any additional financial responsibilities when you’re already in debt and struggling to put food on the table and gas in the car. Please don’t let the challenge of meeting this filing fee requirement keep you from filing for Cincinnati bankruptcy if this debt relief option could help you and your family. If you live below 150% of the poverty line, you can submit a fee waiver request to the Court. If you earn more than this amount, you can ask the Court for permission to pay your fee in manageable installments after filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When Americans started conducting more and more of their personal business online, most families got rid of their printers. Doing business online is an attractive option partially because it’s environmentally friendly, cost-effective and fast. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Bankruptcy Court has yet to fully embrace the Digital Age. While the Court makes most bankruptcy forms available online as fillable PDFs, filers aren’t allowed to submit their forms over the internet. Instead, they must be printed out and sent in the mail or hand-delivered to the Court. If, like most Americans, you no longer have a printer at home, consider visiting one of the 41 branches of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. You can print your forms there for a small fee.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
Cincinnati is located in the Southern District of Ohio. The courthouse where you’ll go to file your bankruptcy forms in person is located at 221 East 4th Street. This location can confuse some people, as the courthouse looks much more like an imposing, modern office building than a traditional courthouse. The Court provides driving directions if you need to travel into the city to file from another location. Visiting a courthouse can be anxiety-inducing for some people, but there’s nothing to worry about. As long as you bring along a photo ID and all the paperwork you need for filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati, the process of filing in person should be low-stress and relatively routine.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Not all Ohio bankruptcy requirements involve filling out, printing out and turning in paperwork. Before your discharge can be entered, you’ll also need to attend a meeting with the Trustee appointed to oversee parts of your case. This individual will ask you questions about your finances during this short meeting. Once a Trustee is assigned to your case by the Court, you’ll receive instructions about forwarding personal financial documents to your Trustee. Your Trustee will then reference these documents when preparing to ask you about your finances. Before you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati, you gathered recent pay stubs, your most recent tax return, etc. to reference when you filled out your paperwork. You’ll need to forward many of these same documents to your Trustee.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In addition to the erasure of your debts, filing for Cincinnati bankruptcy comes with some fringe benefits. Specifically, you’re granted access to a debtor education course in personal financial management that will help you ensure that you benefit from the “fresh start” bankruptcy provides for as long as possible. Just as you did when you took a required credit counseling course before you filed for bankruptcy, make sure that the debtor education class you choose has been approved by the Department of Justice for filers in the Southern District of Ohio or your participation won’t “count” for the purposes of this requirement.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
You may be understandably nervous about the idea of coming face-to-face with your creditors during your 341 meeting. However, you’ll likely show up to your meeting only to discover that none of your creditors decided to attend. Unless their debts are particularly complex, low-income filers usually don’t meet with their creditors during the bankruptcy process. Instead, their 341 meeting process tends to unfold as a straightforward question-and-answer session with their Trustee. When preparing to attend your meeting, make sure that you have a photo ID and your original social security card handy. Also, remember that misleading your Trustee when filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati is a crime because you’ll be placed under oath before you answer any questions.
Dealing with Your Car
If you own your car and you can identify an exemption that covers the value of your car, you can skip reading this section, as the Court will allow you to keep your car without any additional effort on your part. However, if you’re still making car payments per the terms of a loan, you should know how filing bankruptcy in Cincinnati will affect your car ownership status. The Court will give you 3 options when it comes to your car. First, you can ask permission to keep making payments. This is called reaffirming your debt. If you can explain to the Court how you’ll be able to manage reliable payments per the terms of your loan, you should be able to keep your car. If you’d prefer to stop making car payments, you can surrender your car by returning it to your creditor. If you give your car back, the Court will free you from the responsibility of making any more loan payments. Finally, if you have the resources to do so, the Court will allow you to redeem the car by paying off the remainder of your loan balance, at market value, in a single payment.
Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Cincinnati
Ohio Means Test
Some filers become overwhelmed when they learn that they must pass the Ohio bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7 before they can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati. Don’t fear; the Ohio bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7 simply evaluates whether your household meets certain income limits and otherwise qualifies for bankruptcy relief under this Chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. If you don’t earn much income, you’re likely to pass this Means Test. But if you don’t, you can still explore alternative bankruptcy options with the assistance of an experienced attorney.
Median Income Levels for Ohio
Ohio Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Ohio
Ohio Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Ohio Bankruptcy Forms
The Southern District of Ohio only requires filers to submit federal bankruptcy forms. This means that when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Cincinnati, you won’t need to fill out local Ohio bankruptcy forms in addition to standard, federal ones. This makes filing easy because all the forms you need can be found in one place.
If you are concerned that filing for Cincinnati bankruptcy will mean that your Trustee will be able to sell all of your property to pay back your creditors, fear not. All of your eligible property, which generally includes most non-luxury items and other property that is not unusually expensive, will be kept safe from being sold through the process of identifying Ohio bankruptcy exemptions to apply to that property. In Schedule C of your bankruptcy paperwork, you’ll tell the Court which Ohio bankruptcy exemptions protect your property from being sold for the benefit of your creditors.