Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t have to be scary and confusing. We provide helpful tips and resources to help you file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in your state without a lawyer.
Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer.
Updated March 23, 2022
Wyoming residents enjoy a lower cost of living than residents in many other states. But living in Wyoming doesn’t mean you consistently earn enough to make ends meet — especially if you have student loans, credit cards, a car loan, medical bills, or other debts. Wyoming also isn’t immune to the rising cost of living. Residents of the Cheyenne metro area experienced a cost of living increase of 12.1% between 2010 and 2020. If your income hasn’t kept up with the rising costs of living, you might feel like you’re drowning in bills and debt with no way out.
The good news is that you have options, including filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a viable option for dealing with your debts and not one to be ashamed of. Even if you can’t afford to hire an attorney, you can still file for bankruptcy.
How To File Bankruptcy for Free in Wyoming
Many people don’t consider bankruptcy because they think it’s expensive. There are two main costs associated with filing for bankruptcy — the filing fee and a bankruptcy attorney. You have options for paying the filing fee, and with the help of this guide, you don’t even have to hire a bankruptcy attorney.
- Collect Your Wyoming Bankruptcy Documents
- Take a Credit Counseling Course
- Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
- Get Your Filing Fee
- Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
- File Your Forms With the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court
- Mail Documents to Your Trustee
- Take a Debtor Education Course
- Attend Your 341 Meeting
- Dealing with Your Car
Collect Your Wyoming Bankruptcy Documents
Once you decide that Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a good option for your situation, collecting any required and helpful documents is the first step. Even if you choose to hire a lawyer to file on your behalf, you’ll need some of these documents, and you’ll find others helpful to reference.
You must have your last two years of tax returns, pay stubs covering the last 60 days of your employment, and a bank statement covering the day you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also find it helpful to have:
Older bank statements from the last 6-12 months, which can help you calculate your expenses,
Creditor statements or bills, and
Letters or emails from collection agencies or other third-party debt collectors.
It’s also helpful to have a copy of your recent credit report. Everyone is entitled to receive a free credit report every 12 months from each of the three consumer credit reporting agencies. If you file using Upsolve’s free filing tool, it will pull your report for you.
Take a Credit Counseling Course
Your next step is to take a credit counseling course. U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires all Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers to complete a credit counseling course from a state-approved provider in the six months before they file their bankruptcy petition. Completing this course shows that you understand your options for dealing with your debts.
Credit counseling courses typically cost less than $50. But don’t let this expense deter you from seeking bankruptcy protection. If you can’t afford the fee, you can apply for a fee waiver.
Once you complete the course, you’ll receive a course certificate. Submit this with your bankruptcy paperwork as proof that you completed the course.
Complete the Bankruptcy Forms
Bankruptcy is a legal process that requires you to complete several forms. The forms ensure you’re eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and that all of your debts and creditors are accounted for.
Most of these forms are the same throughout the country, no matter which state you file in. The forms are available for free online as fillable PDFs. If you decide to file bankruptcy using the Upsolve tool, you’ll fill out an online questionnaire with your information. Then our software will complete the forms for you. If you hire an attorney, your attorney or a paralegal will typically go over the questions with you. Then they’ll complete the paperwork for you.
Get Your Filing Fee
Under U.S. bankruptcy laws, the current Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee is $338, which you must pay when you file your case with the court. If you hire an attorney, you may pay this fee as part of your attorney’s fees, who then pays the filing fee for you.
Don’t let the filing fee discourage you from filing bankruptcy if you can’t afford it. If you earn less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can apply for a fee waiver. Please see the Wyoming State Waiver Eligibility reference table below for more information. If the court grants your waiver, you won’t have to pay anything to file your bankruptcy.
Some people need to file bankruptcy quickly to receive protection under the automatic stay. You may benefit from this if you’re facing wage garnishment or a home foreclosure. In these cases, you can make at least a 25% down payment on the filing fee and apply to pay the remainder in installments before your bankruptcy case is closed. The court must approve installment plans.
That said, if you don’t have a reason to file quickly, it’s best to wait to file until you have the entire filing fee. Making installment payments increases the risk that your case could be dismissed if you miss one of your payments.
Print Your Bankruptcy Forms
The next step to get your fresh start is printing your forms. If it’s been a few weeks since you completed them, take a few minutes to review them. Some information is time-sensitive, so ensure that all the information is up to date and correct. If something isn’t, it could delay the closure or discharge of your bankruptcy case or even cause the court to drop your case.
If you file using the Upsolve filing tool, you’ll receive your bankruptcy packet as a single download that includes convenient dividers showing you where you need to sign. If you print your paperwork yourself, be sure to print it on regular, white letter-size paper in black ink. Only print single-sided pages, and double-check that you sign every signature page. Print out each section individually so that you don’t miss anything. Omitting paperwork or forgetting to sign it can also delay or damage your bankruptcy case.
File Your Forms With the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court
If an attorney represents you, they’ll file your bankruptcy forms for you electronically. Unfortunately, if you’re filing without an attorney, or “pro se,” you don’t have any options to file electronically in Wyoming. You’ll need to either file in person at the courthouse in Cheyenne, have someone drop off your forms for you, or file by mail.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wyoming Bankruptcy Court is currently functioning as usual. In-person hearings are allowed, though they’re not required, and some are being held via videoconference. This is an option, especially for those living outside the Cheyenne metro area. If you go in person, the court encourages social distancing and using face coverings.
Mail Documents to Your Trustee
Now that you’ve filed your paperwork with the court, you need to send your documents to your bankruptcy trustee. Under federal law, you must send your trustee several documents at least seven days before the 341 meeting. At a minimum, these documents include:
A bank statement that includes your filing date, and
Your most two recent federal income tax returns.
You may also receive correspondence directly from your trustee’s office requesting other documents or information from you. Be sure to comply with any deadlines they set, and follow the instructions on how to best submit the requested information to their office. If you fail to comply or miss a deadline, you could jeopardize your bankruptcy case. If you don’t understand the instructions or what they’re asking for, contact your trustee to clarify as soon as possible, so you don’t miss a critical deadline.
Take a Debtor Education Course
Even though you already took a course to file Chapter 7, you must take another one to receive your bankruptcy discharge. You can only complete the second course — a debtor education course — after you’ve filed your case. Instead of focusing on debt-relief options, this course educates you about responsible financial management, so you get the full benefit of your fresh start.
Be sure to take a course from an approved provider for Wyoming no later than 60 days after your 341 meeting. You may need to submit the certificate of completion to the court on your own, or your course provider might do this on your behalf.
Attend Your 341 Meeting
All Chapter 7 filers must attend a 341 meeting. Also known as the meeting of creditors, this meeting is run by your bankruptcy trustee. It’s an opportunity for creditors to ask questions about your case and oppose the discharge of the unsecured debt you owe them. But it’s rare that creditors show up to these meetings, so you likely won’t need to worry. Due to COVID-19, all 341 meetings are currently held virtually. In the future, your meeting might be scheduled to take place at one of the court’s locations, depending on where you live.
Have your government-issued ID and acceptable proof of your Social Security number with you. The trustee will place you under oath and ask questions as they review your forms. The meeting typically only takes about five to 10 minutes and is audio recorded. Once it’s over, you’re another step closer to financial freedom.
Dealing with Your Car
If you currently own or finance a car, you’ll need to figure out what to do with it. If your car is completely paid off, you can keep it if its value is less than the applicable exemption limit. Wyoming’s state exemptions allow you to protect up tp $5,000 of equity in a vehicle. (More about exemptions later.)
If you’re making payments on your car and want to keep it, you can reaffirm the debt. Your payments must be current to choose this option. When you reaffirm the debt, you agree to keep making payments as usual. If your loan balance is more than your car’s value, you could also redeem the car. Redeeming the car means you pay the lender either the outstanding balance of the loan or the car's value, whichever is less, in one lump sum.
If you’re financing a motor vehicle, you can also surrender it. Surrendering the car means you voluntarily turn it over to the lender. Then, you’re no longer responsible for making payments for it. The car loan debt will be discharged in your bankruptcy.
You have similar options if you’re leasing. You can keep the lease agreement if it works for you by “assuming” the lease. If you want to get rid of the lease and return the car, you can “reject” the lease.
The good news is that no matter which option you go with, you may still qualify for vehicle financing in the future.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Means Test
Not everyone is eligible to file under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. You’ll have to pass a means test. The first half of the test compares your income to the applicable median income limits based on the number of people in your household and where you live. If you make more than the limit, you can only file Chapter 7 in Wyoming if you pass the second part of the means test. The second part of the test accounts for expenses to see if you have enough disposable income to repay at least 25% of your debt.
If you don’t pass the second part of the means test, you won’t be able to file Chapter 7. But the good news is that you can still file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. In Chapter 13 your debts are restructured and participate in a repayment plan for 3-5 years before qualifying debts are discharged.
Data on Median income levels for Wyoming
Wyoming Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed In 2024
Data on Poverty levels for Wyoming
Wyoming Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed In 2024
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
|State Poverty Level
|Fee Waiver Limit (150% PL)
Wyoming Bankruptcy Forms
The primary bankruptcy forms are the same no matter which state you live in because the forms are federal. Some states also require filers to fill out certain local forms. In Wyoming, if you didn’t receive any paycheck stubs in the 60 days before you filed your Chapter 7 bankruptcy or you don't have access to them anymore, you must file Local Form F along with the rest of your bankruptcy documents. Additionally, you should review the court's instructions on preparing the creditors' mailing matrix to make sure yours meets the court's requirements. You can download the primary and local forms from the court’s website.
Be aware that no matter where your case is being handled (some are handled in Casper), all forms must be sent to the bankruptcy court in Cheyenne.
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Wyoming Districts & Filing Requirements
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Wyoming is the only court in the state. It serves all counties in the state. You need to file in person at the courthouse in Cheyenne or by mail.
If you’re going to apply for an installment plan to pay your filing fee, you’ll need to put 25% down (currently $84.50). The Wyoming Bankruptcy Court requires filers to pay Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fees via cashier’s check, money order, certified check, or cash. The court won’t accept credit cards or personal checks from individual filers. You can find COVID-19 specific changes or restrictions on the court’s homepage.
Although the court can’t provide legal advice, it has an online guide for filing bankruptcy without an attorney.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Exemptions
Federal and state laws allow you to exempt or protect some of your property from being used to pay back your debts. Most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are no-asset cases, meaning that most filers’ property is protected through exemptions. However, depending on the amount and value of the personal property you own, your creditors could be legally entitled to some as part of your Wyoming Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
If you’ve lived in the Equality State for at least two years, you must use the Wyoming bankruptcy exemptions, as the state has opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions. If you’ve lived in Wyoming for less than two years on the date you file, you must use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. Wyoming has a homestead exemption of $20,000 per debtor. If you are married and filing bankruptcy together, it doubles to $40,000.
Wyoming Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
It’s possible to navigate a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wyoming without an attorney. But if you’re having a hard time matching your property with the available exemptions or running into other challenges in the bankruptcy process, it may be worth hiring a lawyer to help. Most attorneys charge a flat rate to handle Chapter 7 cases. The average flat-rate fee of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy lawyer in Wyoming is $1,300, with most charging between $1,100 – $1,500. Cost isn’t the only thing to consider, though, when choosing a good bankruptcy attorney.
Wyoming Legal Aid Organizations
If you need help filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wyoming but can’t pay for a lawyer, you can reach out to one of the Wyoming legal aid organizations or check the list of options for low-income filers published by the Wyoming State Bar.
Wyoming Court Locations
Joseph C. O'Mahoney Federal Building
2120 Capitol Avenue Cheyenne, WY 82001
Ewing T. Kerr Federal Building and United States Courthouse
111 South Wolcott Street Casper, WY 82601
Wyoming Bankruptcy Judges
|District of Wyoming
|Hon. Cathleen D. Parker
|David L. Miller
|Randy L. Royal
|Tracy L. Zubrod