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Written by Attorney Tina Tran.
Updated July 27, 2020
Out of the 2.5 million tourists that visitVirginia Beach beaches every year, approximately 5,000 filed aChapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2017 based solely on the number of new bankruptcy cases filed that year! Statistically speaking that is. And according to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts, more than 99% of individuals that file Chapter 7 receive a discharge! Bankruptcy is a court administered legal process that relieves people of debts they can no longer afford to pay. For consumers, there are two main types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach eliminates or discharges, most debts without requiring repayment, although some debts, such as recent taxes and child support are notdischargeable. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy consolidates all of your debts into a court-approved “plan” of reorganization. The plan results in a monthly payment that you pay to the Chapter 13 Trustee, for three to five years, with whatever remains unpaid at the end getting discharged. A Chapter 13 repayment plan will usually provide treatment for such things as taxes, student loans, and mortgage payments even though they are not discharged at the end. Most consumers who file Chapter 13 do so with the help of an attorney. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy, on the other hand, eliminates all of an individual’s dischargeable debts without that individual ever making any payments to the Court. Known as a Chapter 7 liquidation, if you own very expensive personal property, to be required to sell that property to pay creditors; it is extremely rare for this to happen. In fact, most consumers, who do not own their home, prefer Chapter 7 over Chapter 13 even if such things as their taxes and student loans are not discharged. This is because a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is much easier to prepare and file on your own and will typically be concluded in a little more than ninety days.To learn more about filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach just keep reading!
Virginia Beach Bankruptcy Lawyers – Estimated Cost
The cost of a bankruptcy lawyer in Virginia Beach ranges between $800 and $1200. However, some bankruptcy attorneys charge as much as $2,000 to handle a Virginia Beach bankruptcy. And because most attorneys do not want to be a “creditor” in their own client’s bankruptcy case, all of their fees typically have to be paid before you can file bankruptcy in Virginia Beach with their help. While there are situations where hiring an experienced bankruptcy attorney might be necessary, such as when you own your home and it is worth significantly more than you still owe on it, you can file your own Virginia Beach bankruptcy without a lawyer. For example, if you rent your home, have $10,000 or less in assets, are not being sued, and earn $24,000 or less per year, then the facts of your case are straightforward enough that filing your own Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach, without the assistance of an attorney, is definitely doable.
How to File Bankruptcy in Virginia Beach, Virginia for Free
While filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach is no day at the beach, filing bankruptcy for free in Virginia Beach is easier than you think. All of the information provided in this step-by-step guide on filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach has been written to be clear, simple to understand, easy to follow, and up-to-date!
Collect Your Virginia Beach Bankruptcy Documents
Taking a little time in advance to locate all of the documents you will need to file your Virginia Beach bankruptcy case can save you a lot of time and frustration later. Some of the documents you will need are recent pay stubs, tax returns for the last two years, bank statements for the past four months, credit card bills, medical bills, insurance records, the title to any vehicles you own, the deed to your home, rental or lease agreements, student loan statements and 401k or pension statements. If you are paid through direct deposit and do not get a physical paycheck you can obtain a copy of your most recent pay stub from your employer’s human resources or payroll department. If you cannot locate past tax returns you can request an official tax transcript from the IRS. The best way to save time later is knowing what documents you will need to have readily available when you begin to complete your bankruptcy forms.
Take Credit Counseling
Within the six months before filing your Virginia Beach bankruptcy, you have to take a Pre-Petition Bankruptcy Credit Counseling course from an approved credit counseling agency. The course may be taken in-person, online or over the telephone and costs between $15 and $35. You can obtain a list of approved credit counseling agencies from the United States Trustee’s Office, however, because this is a national list, very few of these agencies - if any - are actually located in Virginia Beach. Instead, most offer pre-bankruptcy credit counseling online or telephone counseling throughout the United States. Whatever agency you use, be sure to get a Certificate of Credit Counseling that you can submit to the Court when you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Grammy Nominated songwriter, and Virginia Beach native, Pharrel Williams is quoted as having once said, “In order to do great things, you must be unafraid to recreate yourself.” The biggest fear most individuals have when they decide to file their own Virginia Beach bankruptcy is completing the large number of forms required to file their case. The main thing to remember is that all if the information you'll need is information about you and your background. It's not a quiz about information you feel you have to memorize. Take advantage of the detailed instructions prepared by the Court and take your time going through all forms. When your Virginia bankruptcy case is filed with the Court, you'l have signed all of the forms under penalty of perjury, so attention to detail is key!
Get Your Filing Fee
You will have to pay a $338 filing fee when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach. If you are not represented by an attorney or filing “pro se” as the Court calls it, then you must pay the filing fee in cash or with a money order. The Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia does not accept personal checks from pro se filers. If you cannot afford to pay the entire amount at once, you may request to pay it in installments. This request must be made on a separate form that is filed at the same time as your petition. If you cannot afford to pay the filing fee at all, you can request a fee waiver. This request must also be made on a separate form and filed at the same time as your petition. However, by law, the Court can only grant your application for a fee waiver if your household income is less than 150% of the federal poverty line, and the Court concludes that you are unable to pay the fee in installments even after filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
When you have thoroughly reviewed all of your Virginia Beach bankruptcy forms and ensured all of the information contained in them is accurate and complete, it is time to print your forms. You should print the original and one copy of your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. If you are requesting to pay your filing fee in installments or requesting a fee waiver from the Court print two copies of these forms as well. All Virginia Beach libraries offer black and white printing for $.20 per page. If you print your original petition at home you can obtain copies at the library for $.20 per page. Despite the large number of pages you will have to print for your Virginia bankruptcy, only print on one side of each page. Duplex printing is not allowed by the Bankruptcy Court.
Go to Court to File Your Forms
The independent City of Virginia Beach is served by the Norfolk Division of the Eastern District of Virginia United States Bankruptcy Court located at 600 Granby Street, Norfolk, Virginia. You must file your Virginia Beach bankruptcy petition with the Court between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The Court provides access to a public terminal for filing documents electronically, however you will probably not be allowed to do so until your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition has been filed and entered by the Court Clerk. As a result, it is best to bring enough copies of your signed petition to leave one with the Court Clerk and keep one for yourself. One special requirement in the Eastern District of Virginia is that the list of creditor addresses needed for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy, known as the creditors’ matrix, has to be saved in text format on a computer diskette. Failure to file this diskette, along with the required cover sheet, within three (3) days of filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach will result in your petition being dismissed.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Once you have filed your Virginia Beach bankruptcy petition with the Bankruptcy Court, do not forget to mail your Trustee a copy of your bankruptcy documents like your pay stubs, W-2, tax returns, bank statements, vehicle titles, insurance, and deed for your home. You are required to mail these documents early enough so that they are received by your Trustee at least seven days before your creditors’ meeting. It is best to mail them as soon as you can in case you forget to include one of your forms or supporting documents. This way you will have enough time to mail the missing form or document without the Trustee having to postpone your creditors’ meeting. If possible, call your Trustee and ask what documents they require if you don’t receive any instructions by the time you are ready to mail everything in. At minimum, you have to submit your most recent federal income tax return and each paystub you have received in the 60 days before filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach.
Take Bankruptcy Course 2
The Post-Petition Bankruptcy Course is the second bankruptcy course you have to take to get a discharge in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach. This course is sometimes also referred to as the Financial Management Course. You cannot take this course until after you have filed your Virginia Beach bankruptcy with the Court. Most credit counseling agencies will let you know at the time you take the Pre-Petition Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Course if they also offer the Post-Petition Bankruptcy Course. This course is different from the first course in three ways. First, the course focuses on your post-bankruptcy financial future instead of your current financial situation. It is designed to teach you how to prepare a budget and manage credit so that you will not have to file bankruptcy again. Second, the course is longer than the first course because it covers more topics in more detail. Third, the course usually costs more than the first course. With the cost of the course ranging from $15 to $50. With $50 being the maximum amount a credit counseling agency can charge for the course without obtaining special permission first. As with the first course, you have to make sure to take it from a company approved to offer it to folks filing bankruptcy in Virginia Beach.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
A meeting of creditors will occur in your Virginia Beach bankruptcy case approximately thirty days after you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition with the Court. This meeting of creditors is also known as the “341 meeting” and takes place between you, the Trustee assigned to your case and your creditors. The Trustee is an individual appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to review your bankruptcy forms and handle other aspects of your Virginia bankruptcy case on behalf of your unsecured creditors. You should bring a copy of your entire Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition packet to this meeting along with copies of all the documents you used to prepare your petition. While all of your creditors are allowed to attend this meeting and ask you questions about your petition, only a few, if any, will attend. The type of creditors most likely to show up for your creditors’ meeting are lenders who hold a lien on your home or car and representatives of credit unions if you have any outstanding loans with the credit union. The meeting typically takes less than ten minutes but could go longer if multiple creditors show up.
Dealing with Your Car
If you are buying your car and still making payments to your lender, in addition to your other bankruptcy forms you will have to complete the Statement of Intention for Individuals Filing Under Chapter 7. This form requires you to choose how you would like to handle what happens with your car in your Virginia Beach bankruptcy. You have three choices. You may choose to surrender the car and give it back to the lender, discharging your obligation to repay the loan. You may choose to keep the car and redeem it by paying the lender its current market value, again being relieved from your obligation to repay the loan. Finally, you may choose to keep the car and enter into a reaffirmation agreement with the lender, where you agree to keep making your payments even after your bankruptcy is discharged. Even if you choose to redeem or reaffirm the car initially you can change your mind at any time before you receive your discharge by notifying the lender and filing an amended Statement of Intentions.
Virginia Bankruptcy Means Test, Bankruptcy Forms, and Exemptions for Virginia Beach
Virginia Means Test
The Virginia bankruptcy Means Test is a set of questions about your household income that is used to determine if you are eligible to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach. Upsolve’s state-specific Means Test calculator will help you complete your Virginia bankruptcy Means Test. Once you have completed your Virginia bankruptcy Means Test the results will tell you whether something known as a presumption of abuse exists in your case. A presumption abuse exists if your household income exceeds the median income of a similar-sized family in Virginia. If so, you can attempt to overcome the presumption of abuse in part two of the Means Test by deducting certain expenses from your monthly income. If your household income is still too high, then you should consider a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If you are married and filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your household income includes your spouse’s income, even if they are not filing bankruptcy with you, as long as you are not legally separated.
Median Income Levels for Virginia
Virginia Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
|Household Size||Monthly Income||Annual Income|
Poverty Levels for Virginia
Virginia Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2021
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|Household Size||State Poverty Level||Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)|
Virginia Bankruptcy Forms
The largest number of Virginia bankruptcy forms included in your Virginia Beach bankruptcy petition are your “schedules”. These schedules are arranged in alphabetical order in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition from Schedule A to Schedule J. In addition, there are two forms included at the front of the petition designated as Official Form 101 and Official Form 106Sum. Official Form 101 is also known as the Voluntary Petition. This form includes all of your personal information as well as information on what type of bankruptcy you are filing. Official Form 106Sum is a summary of your total assets and total liabilities. You will not be able to fill out this form until you have completed all other schedules and statements. In addition to the two official forms at the front of the petition, there are two official forms at the back of the petition as well. Official Form 106Dec is a declaration that all the information you have provided in your petition is true and accurate to the best of your belief. Official Form 107 is a Statement of Your Financial Affairs that includes general information on your current financial situation, such as whether you are being sued or if your wages have been garnished.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions are legal protections granted for your real and personal property in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The exemptions tell you what you are allowed to keep when you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia Beach. For example, Virginia bankruptcy exemptions allow you to keep up to $1,000 of clothing when you file for bankruptcy relief. While $1,000 does not sound like a lot it is usually more than enough for most individuals to exempt all their clothing because the $1,000 value is based on the market value of your clothing not what you paid for them. Unlike some states, Virginia only allows you to use the Virginia bankruptcy exemptions if you have lived in the state for at least 2 years when you file your Virginia Beach bankruptcy case. You may not use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. However, you may use any federal nonbankruptcy exemptions you are entitled to “in addition to” your Virginia bankruptcy exemptions. Federal nonbankruptcy exemptions are exemptions you claim in your bankruptcy that are not part of the Bankruptcy Code. Instead, they are found in other federal laws. However, most of these exemptions are related to federal entitlements like civil service retirement benefits. So, if you have never served in the military or worked for the U.S. Government, then most of the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions will probably not apply to your Virginia Beach bankruptcy.