How to File for Bankruptcy in Virginia
The process of filing for bankruptcy in Virginia mirrors the general process for filing for bankruptcy in all other states. There are also some specific guidelines that filers in Virginia should know about. This can include things like court locations, fees and filing requirements. It will be necessary to determine which form of bankruptcy you qualify for before filing any paperwork with the court. Debtors wishing to have debts discharged will likely end up filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debtors with the means to pay debts back over time will likely qualify to set up a structured payment plan under Chapter 13 bankruptcy. There is also the option to file for Chapter 12 bankruptcy if you are a fishermen or a farmer. In addition, debtors with high debt amounts or high levels of business debt may qualify for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Filing your bankruptcy petition with the court will trigger an automatic stay. An automatic stay officially prevents any creditors from contacting you or attempting to collect payments.
A means test that takes into account your income, assets, property, liabilities and other factors will ultimately determine which form of bankruptcy you are able to file for in the state of Virginia. It is important to supply accurate information and answer all questions honestly while completing a means test. Any attempts to try to hide assets or misrepresent your financial standing could result in strict penalties. It is highly advisable that you use a lawyer at every stage of the bankruptcy process. Filing paperwork incorrectly or failing to follow the guidelines of the court could result in your case being thrown out. In addition, having to change your filing at any point due to mistakes or misunderstandings could result in extra fees. Virginia’s bankruptcy court does provide some guidelines for those who choose to file for bankruptcy without the aid of an attorney.
The Specifics of Filing for Bankruptcy in Virginia
Virginia’s bankruptcy court is divided into two sections. Debtors will either have to file with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia or the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. Court locations for the Western District of Virginia are Roanoke, Lynchburg and Harrisonburg. Court locations for the Eastern District of Virginia are Alexandria, Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News. Forms needed to file for bankruptcy in the state of Virginia can be found here. The cost to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia is $335. The cost to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia is $310. A full list of fees associated with filing for any category of bankruptcy in Virginia can be found here.
Essential Steps to Filing for Bankruptcy in Virginia
Anyone planning to file for bankruptcy in Virginia must take a credit counseling course at some point in the six months leading up to filing a petition. This course must be offered by an agency that is recognized in the state of Virginia. The list of approved counseling agencies can be found here. It is also necessary to complete a debtor education course after you have filed for bankruptcy. The list of approved debtor education agencies can be found here. Another key part of the bankruptcy process is something called the meeting of creditors. This is a brief meeting that must take place before debt can be discharged or a payment plan can go into effect. Creditors have an opportunity to try to discover any non-exempt assets that must be forfeited by the debtor. The court will instruct you regarding where and when to show up for this meeting.