Individuals facing the difficult decision to file bankruptcy in Florida can do so without an attorney. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is intended for individuals who have no means of repaying their unsecured debts. It allows a debtor the opportunity to gain a fresh start financially. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is designed to give debtors an opportunity to repay their unsecured debts over a given amount of time. In both scenarios, the law requires you to learn more about personal finance.
Gather your financial documents into one folder. You can get a free credit report from the website AnnualCreditReport.com (see Resources) to help you list your creditors' addresses.
Research and enroll in a credit counseling course approved by the bankruptcy court (see Resources). You will learn key steps in building and maintaining your credit.
Complete the means test (see Resources). This two-part test is required by all debtors filing bankruptcy in Florida. The first section consist of questions to see if you meet the minimum amount of income to repay debt. The second section determines whether your household income exceeds the median Florida income. As of June 2010, these Florida income figures are as follows: $41,079 for a single person, $52,073 for a two-member family, $58,366 for a three-member family and $68,763 for a four-member family. Add $6,900 for each additional family member.
Submit your bankruptcy petition, your financial folder and your filing fee to the bankruptcy clerk. You will need your financial records to fill out a statement of financial affairs. The bankruptcy court will assign a trustee who will be responsible for handling your financial affairs.
Prepare for a meeting with your creditors and your trustee. You will be asked a series of financial questions by both your trustee and your creditors. Answer them completely and honestly.
Attend personal financial management classes approved by the bankruptcy court (see Resources). This step is required only for debtors who are filing Chapter 7. You will learn about how to better manage your personal finances.