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Written by Attorney Tina Tran.
Updated July 28, 2020
History states that Newport News got its name when the people of the Jamestown Colony encountered Captain Christopher Newport on the James River, as the people of Jamestown Colony were abandoning Jamestown. Captain Newport informed them that reinforcements of men and supplies had arrived, and the colonists returned to Jamestown. The place where they received this “good news” was named Newport News! Today, Newport News is still a place where good news is received. If you are struggling to pay your bills, living paycheck to paycheck, out of work, accumulating large medical bills or constantly being harassed by creditors then there is good news: Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief can help put an end to all these problems. Filing bankruptcy in Newport News without a lawyer is now easier than ever, thanks to Upsolve. If you have heard of bankruptcy before but don’t know what it is, or exactly what it entails, then this guide will help you. If you have considered filing bankruptcy in Newport News in the past but never followed through with it because of the costs of hiring a lawyer, then this guide will help you even more. Bankruptcy is a legal process that wipes out your debt. This is accomplished in one of two ways in a bankruptcy. The first is called a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 allows you to eliminate all your debt without having to pay any of it back. The second is called a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows you to eliminate your debt by reducing and then consolidating the debt into one monthly payment. You will make this payment to the Chapter 13 Trustee, who will then use it to pay your creditors for a period of three to five years. At the end of this period, all of your dischargeable debt is eliminated! In both types of bankruptcy, there are certain debts that cannot be wiped out like student loans, taxes, child support or alimony. There are also debts that can be wiped out, but to do so you must give back any property guaranteeing that debt like your home or car. In these instances, you can voluntarily agree to keep paying these debts to keep your home or car. If you are still interested in filing bankruptcy in Newport News for free, the rest of this guide will show you how!
Newport News Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
If you have thought about filing bankruptcy in Newport News before and never followed through with it because you could not afford to hire a lawyer then you probably already know that the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Newport News ranges from $800 to $1,200. For a person earning $10 per hour, this represents anywhere from three to four weeks of their entire paycheck. Most people in financial distress simply cannot afford to give up three weeks of their income to hire an attorney. It is true that some people have complicated or unique financial situations that require the assistance of an attorney to successfully complete their Chapter 7 bankruptcy. But exploring the possibility of filing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News for free will only make you more confident about your decision to hire an attorney if your situation is more complicated.
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How to File Bankruptcy in Newport News, Virginia for Free
If you have ever visited The Mariner’s Museum on Museum Drive, then you have probably seen a “Captain’s Log.” Here is a “log” of the things you need to do to file your Newport News bankruptcy case, and how to deal with your car once you do.
Collect Your Newport News Bankruptcy Documents
The documents you need to file bankruptcy in Newport News include your pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, W-2, vehicle titles, deeds, 401k and pension statements, insurance records, mortgage statements and rental or lease agreements. These documents will be used to complete forms such as your Schedule A/B, Schedule C, and Schedule I. You will also need documents to show what bills you have and how much you owe creditors. These documents include credit card statements, medical bills, collection notices, payday loan documents, utility bills, cell phone bills, tax bills, student loans statements and statements for your closed or overdrawn bank accounts. These documents will be used to complete forms such as Schedule D and Schedule J for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News.
Take Credit Counseling
In 2005, in response to what the government believed was bankruptcy abuse, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. This law imposed new requirements on individuals wishing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News and elsewhere. One of these new requirements was that all individuals who file bankruptcy take an approved credit counseling course before doing so. The credit counseling course covers such topics as creating a budget, a financial net worth analysis, an analysis of your current financial situation and the factors that caused it, a review of bankruptcy alternatives, the consequences of filing bankruptcy and a plan to avoid financial problems in the future. At the end of the course you will be given a certificate of completion that you must file with your Newport News bankruptcy petition. You can obtain your credit counseling locally through the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Hampton Roads located on 2021 Cunningham Drive, Suite 400, Hampton, VA. CCCS is only a fifteen minute drive from The Mariner’s Museum and is a program of the Center for Child & Family Services licensed by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. You can locate other approved credit counseling agencies through the Office of the United States Trustee.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Completing all of your bankruptcy forms may take several days, but you should not rush the process. When you have finished your Newport News bankruptcy petition, schedules and statements you will be required to certify that all of the information you have provided is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge. This means that you have taken the time to ensure that you are providing accurate and complete responses in all of the forms needed for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News. All of the bankruptcy documents you have collected not only help you to complete all of your bankruptcy forms, but they also speed up the process of doing so. Still, there will be some questions that you will need to locate other documents or call your bank, employer or creditors to answer. You must do this if it is necessary to accurately and completely answer each question.
Get Your Filing Fee
When it comes to paying the fee to file your Virginia bankruptcy there is good news and bad news. The bad news is there is a $338 filing fee payable to the “Clerk, U. S. Bankruptcy Court” to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News. At the Bankruptcy Court’s Newport News location, this fee can only be paid by cashier’s check or money order because the Newport News division does not accept cash. The good news is if you can’t afford to pay the entire fee at once, you can request to pay it in installments. You will need to complete an application to pay your filing fee in installments and submit it with your bankruptcy petition when you file it. If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee at all you can request to have the fee waived. You will need to complete an application to waive the fee and submit it with your bankruptcy petition when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News. To obtain a fee waiver your household income must be less than 150% of the federal poverty level and you must be unable to pay the fee in installments even after filing bankruptcy in Newport News. It’s important to realize that if you request a fee waiver or request to pay the fee in installments and the request is denied, you will be required to pay the entire fee to the Court within 3 to 7 days from the day you filed your Newport News bankruptcy case.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
You need to print at least two copies of your entire Newport News bankruptcy forms package. You must provide a signed original to the Bankruptcy Court when you file your Virginia bankruptcy case and keep a copy for yourself. The typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition packet consists of between 60 and 100 pages, so you may not want to print it on your home printer. The Newport News Public Library provides public computers at all four of its branches and black and white printing is only $0.15 per page. Make sure all of your forms are printed on one side per page because the Bankruptcy Court does not accept double-sided documents.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The Newport News division of the United States Bankruptcy Court is located on 2400 West Avenue in Newport News. It’s open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You won’t need photo identification to access the Clerk’s Office, which is where you will go to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News, but you will need it to enter the courtrooms if you have a hearing scheduled in your case. File your entire Virginia bankruptcy petition packet, request for installment payment (or request for a fee waiver) or your filing fee with the bankruptcy clerk. Cameras and cell phones are not permitted in the courthouse.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
You must mail copies of two months’ worth of pay stubs and your most recent federal income tax return to the Trustee appointed by the Court to handle your Newport News bankruptcy case. The name and address of your Trustee will be provided on the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case you receive at the time of filing your Virginia bankruptcy petition or in the mail shortly afterwards. Include a copy of your notice, or other document with your name and case number on it when you mail your documents to the Trustee. Finally, make sure you mail it so that it’s received by the Trustee at least seven days before the date of your creditors’ meeting. The date of the creditors’ meeting will be provided on your Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case as well.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
In order to get a discharge in your Newport News bankruptcy case, you have to complete a second bankruptcy credit counseling course. The second course, also known as the Post-Petition Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course, consists of counseling and instructions on how to come up with a budget and stick to it, and how to manage credit in the future. This course can take several hours to complete and usually costs more than the first course, with most credit counseling agencies charging between $15 and $50 for the course. When you complete the course, you will be given a Debtor’s Education Certificate that must be filed with the Court as part of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News, either electronically by the provider or by taking it to the Court and submitting it in person. You don’t have to mail the Trustee a copy of this certificate.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
You will receive Official Form 309A – Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case after you file your Newport News bankruptcy petition with the Court. This form will provide you with your case number, the name and address of your Trustee, and the date and time of your creditors’ meeting. The creditors’ meeting is a meeting between you, your Trustee and any of your creditors that choose to attend. You are required to attend this meeting and make yourself available to your creditors to answer their questions about your Virginia bankruptcy case. Your creditors are not required to attend, and most choose not to do so, especially if you have what is called a “no-asset” bankruptcy. A no-asset bankruptcy simply means the Court does not believe you have any non-exempt property that can be sold to pay your creditors. Even if some of your creditors appear, this does not mean they are challenging your Newport News bankruptcy. Typically, they are only trying to get specific information they need for their own records.
Dealing with Your Car
Prior to completing your Newport News bankruptcy forms and submitting everything to the Court, you will have to give some serious consideration to what you would like to do with your car. If your car is paid for, you must list it along with all of your other exempt personal property on Schedule C – Property You Claim as Exempt to protect it. However, if you have a loan on your car you must decide if you want to keep the car or surrender it to the lender. If you want to keep your car, there are two ways to do this. The first way is to reaffirm the debt by entering into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender. A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between you and the lender where you agree to continue making payments on your car in exchange for the lender agreeing to let you keep it. These agreements usually have to be approved by the Bankruptcy Court because the Court will want to ensure that you are entering into the agreement voluntarily and that you will have enough income to keep making your car payments after you receive your discharge in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News. The second way to keep your car is by redeeming it. Redeeming your car means paying the lender the market value of the car and allowing any balance owed beyond that to be discharged. This is usually only practical if your car is worth much less than you owe on it and you can come up with enough money to pay it off. The last option is to surrender your car to the lender. When you surrender your car, you arrange a time and place for the lender to pick it up, or simply wait for them to come and get it. Your obligation to pay the car loan is discharged as an unsecured debt.
Virginia Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Newport News
Virginia Means Test
Something particularly important to married individuals filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News is the Virginia bankruptcy Means Test. If you are married and filing bankruptcy without your spouse, all of the questions you will be asked in your bankruptcy forms relate only to you. The exception to this is the Virginia bankruptcy means test. The Means Test is a comparison of your total household income with the median income for a family of the same size in Virginia. This test requires you to include your spouse’s income in your total household income even if they are not filing bankruptcy with you. If your total household income exceeds the limit, then you have something known as a “presumption of abuse.” A presumption of abuse means that it looks as though your household income is enough to pay at least some of your debts. Once it has been determined that a presumption of abuse exists in your case, you must complete step 2 of the Virginia bankruptcy Means Test by deducting your monthly expenses from your monthly income. If you still have sufficient disposable income to be able to pay your bills then you can’t file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News and must explore your other options, such as filing a Chapter 13, instead.
Median Income Levels for Virginia
Virginia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2022
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Poverty Levels for Virginia
Virginia Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2022
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
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Virginia Bankruptcy Forms
Upsolve makes it easy to obtain all the Virginia bankruptcy forms you need to file your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News. In fact, our guides will provide you with a list of all of the most common forms for your Newport News bankruptcy case, as well as a brief explanation of what each form is used for and what you can expect when you fill it out. The Eastern District of Virginia United States Bankruptcy Court has modified some of the national forms needed for a standard Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, so make sure you review the list of forms that have been modified before submitting your Virginia bankruptcy forms to the Court. If you will be including any of the forms that have been modified by the Court in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition be sure to download the modified form and use it, instead of the national form.
When it comes to good news most people have heard the saying that something is “too good to be true.” If I told you that the overwhelming majority of individuals who get a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News or elsewhere get to keep all of their property, you might think that was too good to be true. But it is true and the reason is because of something called “exemptions.” Virginia bankruptcy exemptions allow individuals to exempt or “protect” certain property up to a certain amount from being sold in bankruptcy. For example, Virginia bankruptcy exemptions allow you to exempt up to $6,000 of equity in a motor vehicle. This means if you own a car, and it is worth $5,000 you cannot be forced to sell that car to pay your creditors, allowing you to keep your fully paid for vehicle even though you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Newport News!