Filing for bankruptcy can be a complex and significant decision, especially when dealing with credit card debt. This article, inspired by the tone and style of the source material from Debt.org, FindLaw, and Upsolve, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the topic. We will explore various aspects of filing for bankruptcy due to credit card debt, including the types of bankruptcy available, the qualifications required, and the implications of such a decision.
Introduction to Bankruptcy for Credit Card Debt
Bankruptcy is a legal procedure that offers relief to individuals overwhelmed by debt. It’s particularly relevant for those struggling with substantial credit card debt. When considering bankruptcy, it’s essential to understand your total debt, interest rates, income, and other financial obligations. This understanding will help you determine the best course of action.
Types of Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, can eliminate most unsecured debts, including credit card debts. When you file a Chapter 7 petition, an automatic stay comes into effect, preventing lenders from taking actions to collect debts. It leads to a discharge of eligible debts, meaning you are no longer legally required to pay them.
Eligible Debts for Discharge in Chapter 7
- Credit card debts
- Personal loans
- Utility bills
- Old rent or lease payments
- Medical bills
- Certain federal student loans
- Child support
- Newer tax debt
- Legal judgments
However, there are limitations. If you’ve incurred debt from luxury goods or services worth $675 or more within 90 days before filing, or if you’ve used your credit card for non-dischargeable debts (like alimony or child support), these debts may not be erased.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Chapter 13, known as reorganization bankruptcy, doesn’t erase debts outright but instead creates a repayment plan based on your income. You’ll likely pay a fraction of your overall credit card debt over 36-60 months. Successful completion of the plan results in the discharge of the remaining debt.
Qualifying for Bankruptcy
Chapter 7 Eligibility
To qualify for Chapter 7, your average income must typically be below the median income for your state, and you must not have sufficient disposable income. The “means test” is used to assess your eligibility. Even if your income is above the median, you might still qualify based on your expenses and disposable income.
Filing Without an Attorney
While it’s beneficial to hire a bankruptcy attorney, it’s not mandatory. The average cost for a Chapter 7 case is between $1,200 and $1,500. However, organizations like Upsolve can assist you in preparing your bankruptcy forms for free if you can’t afford an attorney.
Considerations Before Filing
Before deciding to file for bankruptcy, consider:
- The long-term impact on your credit score.
- The possibility of having to liquidate assets in Chapter 7.
- The requirement to adhere to a strict budget under Chapter 13.
- Alternative debt relief options, such as debt management or settlement programs.
- Seeking advice from a credit counselor or bankruptcy attorney.
Bankruptcy can offer a fresh start for those drowning in credit card debt. However, it’s a decision that requires careful consideration of your financial situation and long-term goals. Assess your options, understand the implications, and seek professional advice to make an informed decision.