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Filing Bankruptcy in Dayton, Ohio

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Written by the Upsolve Team
Updated September 30, 2020

Living in one of the largest cities in Ohio is expensive. Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly easy for anyone living in an expensive location to fall on hard times. Even if you work hard, you stick to a monthly budget and you rarely buy anything that is not a necessity, you can find yourself behind on your bills in a snap if you unexpectedly lose your job, lose a loved one, or someone in your household gets sick or hurt. If you are behind on your bills and it feels as though you’ll never catch up, it may be time to take bold, courageous action. Have you considered Ohio bankruptcy? Depending on your unique situation, bankruptcy can help you to either lower your monthly debt payments to your creditors or erase your debts. Many residents of The Gem City opt to file for bankruptcy when times get particularly tough, so if you’re thinking about taking advantage of the benefits associated with filing bankruptcy in Dayton, you aren’t alone.

Depending on how complex your finances are, filing Dayton bankruptcy can be a surprisingly straightforward process. With that said, bankruptcy will affect your credit for several years, so you should not jump into this process feet-first without doing a little research. To determine which kind of bankruptcy process may work best for your family, you’ll need to carefully examine your finances. Depending on the kind of income you make, expenses you juggle, debts you owe and assets you own, you may especially benefit from filing bankruptcy under Chapter 7. This financial resource is available to filers who don’t earn much money or own a lot of expensive property. It’s a particularly life-changing process because it erases many kinds of debt forever. Imagine what it would be like to never have to worry about your current debt-load again. If you are eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it may be time to strongly consider filing.

Dayton Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost

Filing bankruptcy in Dayton doesn’t have to be an expensive process. If your finances are not complex and you don’t make a lot and don’t own anything extravagant, you can choose to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 on your own. The process is straightforward and comes with directions that are easy to follow. However, not everyone wants to file bankruptcy without a lawyer’s help. If you’re interested in receiving some bankruptcy assistance in Dayton, you may be wondering “How much does a Dayton bankruptcy lawyer cost?” The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer varies significantly in Dayton. You could pay as little as $690 and as much as $1,200, depending on the complexity of your financial situation and the rates of individual attorneys you may want to work with. Consider scheduling a consultation with each attorney candidate so that you can discuss rates and any questions you may have before you commit to the services provided by any particular lawyer. 

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How to File Bankruptcy in Dayton, Ohio for Free

Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton may be the solution you’ve been looking for. To learn more, consider the following introductory information about the major steps taken in every Ohio bankruptcy process under Chapter 7.

Collect Your Dayton Bankruptcy Documents

There is a great deal of paperwork involved in filing bankruptcy in Dayton. After all, the Court can’t decide your case until it understands what your debts are and why you can’t afford to pay your creditors back. As you prepare to complete your paperwork, you’ll need to collect some personal financial information. This information will allow you to accurately tell the Court about your finances. For example, you’ll need to track down your pay stubs for the last few months so you can accurately report your income. You may also benefit from requesting a free credit report so that you have a record of all your creditors and debts in one place. This will prove to be a handy reference when you are creating your list of creditors for the Court, commonly referred to as a creditor matrix. Also, if you’re unsure of how your income is being spent, consider referencing your recent bank statements. 

Take Credit Counseling

If you’ve ever heard a die-hard Ohio sports fan talk about the coaching staff of the Buckeyes, Reds or Bengals, you know how important good coaching can be to a team of any caliber. Similarly, good credit “coaching” can be very important to the eventual success of a Dayton bankruptcy process. Qualified credit counselors will help to make sure that you understand your options before you formally commit to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton. When researching online courses, make sure to choose a program that has been approved by the Department of Justice for the Southern District of Ohio (Ohio has a Northern District too) or your participation won’t satisfy the Court’s pre-filing credit counseling requirement and you won’t be eligible to file bankruptcy in Dayton.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

When researching how to file bankruptcy in Dayton, you may feel frustrated or anxious after learning about the number of forms you need to fill out. You will be happy to learn that each form features directions that are easy-to-follow. Most of this paperwork simply asks you to honestly tell the Court about different aspects of your finances, including your debts, expenses, income, and assets. Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton is a relatively straightforward process if your financial circumstances aren’t particularly complex, so don’t stress too much when you first glance at the required paperwork. Filling it out is easier than it looks if you just remember to take your time and carefully review all available instructions.

Get Your Filing Fee

Paying a $338 fee may not seem like an overwhelming financial burden to some people. However, this filing fee amount, which is the cost of filing bankruptcy in Dayton under Chapter 7, tends to cause great hardship for filers who are already struggling to meet their basic financial needs. Thankfully, many low-income filers are eligible to have the Court evaluate their cases for free. If your income is below 150% of the federal poverty line, you may be granted a fee waiver. When asking for a waiver, the Court will want to know whether you can afford to pay the fee in installments after you no longer have to submit monthly payments to your creditors. The Court will notify you if your request has been approved after your Dayton bankruptcy forms have been processed.

The U.S. Bankruptcy District Courts are a little behind the times. As a result, you aren’t allowed to file your Dayton bankruptcy paperwork online. Instead, your forms need to be physically printed out, whether you plan on completing them by hand or by filling them in first using your computer.  If you don’t have a printer at home or easy access to one at work, consider visiting the Dayton Metro Library. With 19 local library branches to choose from in Greater Dayton, this may be the most convenient option available. Make sure to bring some money to print the forms out and try to print everything out at once so that you don’t have to come back again to print off more.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

Whether it’s family, your job, or attractions like the Dayton Art Institute or Carillon Historical Park, you probably live in Dayton partially because you enjoy all it has to offer. You may or may not have noticed by now that one of Dayton’s many features is impressive federal courthouses. Dayton is located in the Southern District of Ohio and the courthouse where you’ll need to file your bankruptcy forms is located at 120 West Third Street. Visiting a courthouse can be anxiety-inducing at first. But as long as you bring along a photo ID and two copies of all the paperwork you need for filing bankruptcy in Dayton, you’ll be just fine.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton, the Court will appoint a Trustee to oversee portions of your bankruptcy process. This person will receive a small fee in exchange for looking over your bankruptcy paperwork and conducting a short meeting between you and (maybe) your creditors. During this meeting, the Trustee will ask you questions about your financial circumstances and events that occurred shortly before filing bankruptcy in Dayton. Before your Trustee can prepare for this meeting, you’ll need to send copies of specific documents, like your most recent federal income tax return, to your Trustee for their review so they can prepare for your 341 meeting.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

Time for another online education course! You already participated in a pre-filing credit counseling requirement. At this point in the bankruptcy process, you’re required to take a debtor education class before your Dayton bankruptcy case can result in a discharge of your debts. While the credit counseling requirement is designed to make sure you understand your options, the debtor education requirement is designed to make sure the benefits of your bankruptcy process “stick” well into the future. Just like your credit counseling course, make sure that you only choose a program that has beenapproved by the Department of Justice for your district so that the Court honors your participation. When done, make sure you send a copy of the certificate of completion to the Court for their records.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

Bankruptcy Trustees are required to conduct meetings between debtors and their creditors before the Court will decide whether to approve a debtor’s request for relief. Interestingly though, creditors rarely attend 341 meetings in person, especially when lower-income individuals seek to discharge relatively minor debts. As a result, your 341 meeting will likely take place between you and your Trustee. This meeting allows the Trustee to obtain information about why you’re filing bankruptcy in Dayton after you’ve been placed under oath. The anticipation of this meeting can be stressful, but if you remain calm, focused and honest, you’ll do just fine.

Dealing with Your Car

If you own a car or truck and no longer need to make payments on a loan for that vehicle, you can use an exemption to safeguard at least some of the market value of that vehicle from your creditors. If your exemption safeguards the entire market value of the car, you can keep that vehicle and your Trustee won’t be able to sell it for your creditors’ benefit. However, if you’re still making payments on your vehicle at the time you’re filing bankruptcy in Dayton, you’ll need to decide whether you want to reaffirm your debt, redeem the car or surrender your car. The potential benefits and drawbacks of each option will depend on your family’s transportation needs and whether you can reliably make payments per the terms of your loan agreement going forward. 

Ohio Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Dayton

Ohio Meanst Test

To be considered eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton, you’ll need to pass the Ohio bankruptcy Means Test for Chapter 7. The Ohio bankruptcy Means Test examines each applicant’s household size, income and expenses and compares them to specific income limits defined in the Bankruptcy Code. Most low-income households pass the Means Test, but some folks don’t pass this strict test because they can afford to pay their creditors at least a little bit by way of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Anyone who doesn’t pass can still explore alternative bankruptcy relief options with the assistance of an attorney, who may even be able to find a way for you to pass the Ohio bankruptcy Means Test.

Median Income Levels for Ohio

Ohio Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2023
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income

Poverty Levels for Ohio

Ohio Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2023

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

Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)

Ohio Bankruptcy Forms

You may be tempted to freak out when you print the forms you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Dayton. When you first look at them, they are likely going to seem too complex and too numerous to handle without a lawyer’s help. However, each of these Ohio bankruptcy forms comes with clear, step-by-step directions. As long as you follow them carefully, you should be able to successfully file on your own. The Southern District of Ohio doesn’t require that any special forms be submitted along with those that are standard, which makes filing that much easier. 

Ohio Exemptions

In one of your Dayton bankruptcy forms, you will be asked to attach a property exemption to each piece or category of your property (depending on the specific kind of property in question). This process is critical because taking advantage of Ohio bankruptcy exemptions will allow you to keep most or all of your property safe from being sold for the benefit of your creditors. Therefore, be careful to attach Ohio bankruptcy exemptions to all the eligible property you own. Ohio doesn’t recognize the federal bankruptcy exemptions, so you’ll need to apply state-specific exemptions to your property. 

Written By:

The Upsolve Team

Upsolve is fortunate to have a remarkable team of bankruptcy attorneys, as well as finance and consumer rights professionals, as contributing writers to help us keep our content up to date, informative, and helpful to everyone.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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