How to File Bankruptcy As an Indigent

By Don E. Peavy, Sr.
Even an indigent person can afford to file bankruptcy.

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The recent changes to the bankruptcy law allow debtors to file an application for waiver of their filing fees if they are filing a chapter 7 petition, earn less than 150 percent of the poverty guidelines published by the federal government, and cannot afford to pay the fee in installments. A debtor filing a chapter 13 petition will be required to pay the fee in installments and thus is ineligible for a waiver of the filing fee.

Complete the Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Filing Fee, which should be one of the forms available in your bankruptcy petition packet. Most bankruptcy district clerks provide a bankruptcy petition packet free of charge. You can also purchase the packet at an office supply store.

Enter your family size and income and expenses on the appropriate lines of the Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Filing Fee. You must include information on your spouse even if you are filing an individual petition.

Enter your bank accounts on the application as well as all property you own and any monies owed to you or monies you reasonably expect to receive.

Print your name and social security number at the bottom of the application and sign and date it where indicated.

Take the form to the federal bankruptcy district clerk's office along with all the other forms contained in the bankruptcy petition packet, making sure they are completed and signed as needed. Make sure you have the required number of copies. Tell the clerk you have completed the form for a waiver of your filing fee and the clerk will accept the forms and file them.

Wait for receipt of the court's order on your application which will be mailed to you by the bankruptcy clerk. The judge will either grant your application or deny it and order you to pay the filing fee in installment payments. The judge will specify the details in the court's order. If the judge determines that more information is needed to determine your status, then your application will be set for a hearing. The bankruptcy clerk will send you notice of the hearing as well as where the hearing will be conducted.

About the Author

Don E. Peavy, Sr. teaches philosophy, ethics and religion at the University of Phoenix, Dallas Campus. His published works include “Disaster Among the Heavens," “What Must I Do? Bridging the Gap Between Being and Doing" and “Play It Where It Lies: How to Win at the Game of Life." Peavy holds a Master of Divinity, as well as a Juris Doctor.

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