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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.
Decide which bankruptcy is right for you. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for those who do not have enough income to repay debts. It also stops creditors from contacting you. Chapter 13 is for those individuals who can repay their debt, and offers them a three- to five-year period to do so.
Gather all necessary financial information. You will need copies of your tax returns from the last two years, a list of income and assets, and a list of debts owed to creditors. You will also need the addresses and names of all creditors.
Enroll in a credit counseling class approved by the federal bankruptcy court in the state of California. You can find a listing of these classes by visiting the U.S. Trustee Program website at Justice.gov. You will be given a certificate upon completing this class to keep for your records.
Take a means test. This two-part questionnaire determines if you qualify to file a Chapter 7 petition. The first part checks to see if you have the ability to repay your creditors. The second part compares your income against the state median income. As of June 2010, the California median income was $47,969 for a single-member family, $64,647 for a two-member family, $70,638 for a three-member family and $79,194 for a four-member family. Your income must fall below these amounts to qualify for filing Chapter 7.
Submit your bankruptcy petition to your local bankruptcy court clerk. You will need to complete a Statement of Financial Affairs form by using the financial information you gathered earlier. You will also be required to pay $299 to cover filing fees if you are submitting a Chapter 7 petition and $274 if you are filing for Chapter 13. For Chapter 13 petitions, you must also submit a repayment schedule that states when you will be able to repay your creditors. In either case, the court will assign a trustee to manage your financial affairs.
Attend a creditors' meeting with your trustee. When filing for Chapter 7, expect a meeting to occur between 20 and 40 days from filing your petition. If you are filing for Chapter 13, this meeting will occur between 20 and 50 days from filing. In either case, your main responsibility is to answer all financial questions to the best of your ability.
Attend financial management classes if you are filing Chapter 7. For your bankruptcy to be discharged, you will need to complete a state-approved financial management course. Your trustee will assist you in locating one.