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Are You Eligible for Bankruptcy? Understanding the Key Criteria

In the realm of financial turmoil, bankruptcy emerges as a beacon of hope, offering a path to solvency for those drowning in debt. However, the road to filing for bankruptcy is paved with specific criteria and tests.

This article explores the eligibility requirements for bankruptcy, the intricacies of the means test for Chapter 7, and the repayment plan necessities for Chapter 13.

Throughout this financial journey, remember the indispensable role of a bankruptcy attorney in guiding you through these complex steps.

Understanding Bankruptcy Eligibility

Bankruptcy is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Determining eligibility is your first step.

There are various types of bankruptcy, but the most common for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, each with its own set of criteria.

1. Criteria for Filing Bankruptcy

To file for bankruptcy, you must first meet specific requirements:

  • Residency: You must be a resident of the state where you plan to file for a certain period, typically at least 90 days.
  • Credit Counseling: Prior to filing, you must complete a credit counseling course from an approved agency within 180 days.
  • Previous Bankruptcy Filings: If you have filed for bankruptcy before, certain time restrictions apply before you can file again.

2. The Means Test for Chapter 7

Chapter 7, known as liquidation bankruptcy, has specific eligibility criteria known as the means test. This test determines if your income is low enough to file for Chapter 7.

  • Step One – Median Income Comparison: Initially, your average monthly income over the last six months is compared to the median income for a similar household in your state. If your income is below the median, you qualify for Chapter 7.
  • Step Two – Assessing Your Disposable Income: If your income exceeds the median, you’ll undergo further testing to evaluate your disposable income by subtracting specific monthly expenses from your monthly income. If your disposable income is below a certain amount, you may still qualify for Chapter 7.

3. Repayment Plan Requirements for Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, often termed a wage earner’s plan, caters to individuals with a regular income who can pay back part of their debts through a repayment plan.

  • Steady Income: You must have a reliable source of income to fund the repayment plan.
  • Debt Limits: Your secured and unsecured debts must not exceed certain amounts, updated periodically.
  • Feasibility of Repayment Plan: You must prove that you can afford to meet the repayment obligations over the 3-5 year period of the plan.


Man determining bankruptcy eligibility


The Role of a Bankruptcy Attorney

Navigating the labyrinth of bankruptcy eligibility criteria and requirements can be a formidable task. This is where the expertise of a bankruptcy attorney becomes invaluable.

– Expert Assessment of Your Financial Situation

An attorney skillfully evaluates your financial situation to determine the most suitable type of bankruptcy. They scrutinize your income, debts, and assets to guide you to the right choice.

– Navigating the Means Test

For Chapter 7, the means test can be a complex hurdle. An attorney aids in accurately calculating your income and allowable expenses and in interpreting the nuances of the test. They ensure you don’t mistakenly disqualify yourself.

– Designing a Chapter 13 Repayment Plan

When filing for Chapter 13, designing a repayment plan that’s acceptable to the court and feasible for you is critical. A bankruptcy attorney plays a crucial role in formulating a plan that complies with legal requirements while ensuring that your essential needs are met.

– Avoiding Common Pitfalls

The process is fraught with potential errors that can result in the dismissal of your case or other legal complications. A bankruptcy attorney navigates these pitfalls, ensuring paperwork accuracy and adherence to all procedural requirements.

– Representation and Advocacy

In both types of bankruptcy, having an attorney means having an advocate who represents your interests, whether in negotiations with creditors or in the courtroom. They provide a shield against the legal complexities of the bankruptcy process.


Determining your eligibility for bankruptcy is the foundational step in your journey toward financial recovery.

While this article provides an overview of the requirements and criteria for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, the nuances and complexities of bankruptcy law underscore the importance of hiring a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney.

Their expertise not only lights your path to eligibility but also steers you clear of common missteps, ensuring a smoother passage through the demanding process of bankruptcy.

With the right legal counsel, you can confidently navigate the bankruptcy process, making informed decisions that pave the way to a more stable financial future.


Where Can I Find Help?

Dealing with bankruptcy doesn’t have to be a single-person job. The bankruptcy lawyers at Parker & DuFresne will help you determine the best course of action to help you get out from under your debt and move forward to a debt-free future.

Call today at 904-733-7766 for a free consultation, or click the button at the top of the page to schedule online.


Florida Bankruptcy Lawyers

Parker and DuFresne

Parker and DuFresne