How to File Bankruptcy in District of Columbia

Do You Qualify for Bankruptcy in all District of Columbia counties, the District of Columbia?

You may be surprised to learn that whether you can file for bankruptcy can come down to which state and county you live in.

Which type of bankruptcy you qualify for depends, in part, on whether your annual income is more or less than the the District of Columbia median income. Before looking at numbers and formulas, however, you should be familiar with the two main types of personal bankruptcy:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 allows you to eliminate most unsecured debts in a matter of months in return for giving up all property that is not exempt. (Unsecured debts are debts—like credit card charges or medical bills—that aren’t backed up by specific items of property as collateral.)

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Alternatives to Filing for Bankruptcy in the District of Columbia

Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a life saver, but don’t rush into it before considering whether it’s the best solution for you. Under some circumstances, even if you’re facing a mountain of unpayable debts, bankruptcy may not be your best option.

Who Files for Bankruptcy?

The typical bankruptcy filer is a person already in fragile economic circumstances, often with large amounts of credit card debt, who then suddenly gets hit by hard luck—like job loss, injury, divorce, or uninsured medical expenses—leading to unmanageable payments and insurmountable penalties.

Bankruptcy is designed to help people like this, who need help making a clean break—to get a fresh start on life, rather than struggling under the crushing burden of unpayable debt.

When You Might Not Need (or Want) to File for Bankruptcy

If You're Judgment Proof

It you’re truly broke, you may be what the law calls “judgment proof.” This simply means that creditors can’t grab your property or your salary because there’s nothing the law allows them to take. more...  

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How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works

For most people, the goal of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is to wipe out as much debt as possible. In legal terms, this is called having your debts “discharged.”

In exchange for your bankruptcy discharge, you must be willing to turn over any of your property that is not exempt under bankruptcy law. The bankruptcy trustee in charge of your case will liquidate (sell) the property to pay as much as possible to your creditors; that’s why Chapter 7 is often called “liquidation bankruptcy.”

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How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Works

Chapter 13 bankruptcy lets you pay all or part of your debts in installments over a period of either three or five years. Many people who want to declare bankruptcy but have too much income to qualify for Chapter 7 end up filing for Chapter 13. Regular income allows folks in Chapter 13 to keep up with an agreed upon payment plan.

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How Much Does It Cost to File for Bankruptcy in District of Columbia?

In 2020, Chapter 7 bankruptcy costs $335 in filing fees, unless you get a fee waiver from the court. And the filing fees for Chapter 13 are $310. But the cost of filing for bankruptcy is more than just the filing fee. You may also have to pay for:

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Where to File for Bankruptcy in District Of Columbia

Where to file your bankruptcy case depends on where you live and on whether you have a business close to home. Usually, you'll file in the federal district court closest to where you've lived for the past 180 days (six months). But if you run a business in a different district and most of your property is located there, you may have to file in the federal court serving that location.

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