Do I qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Florida?

You’ll still hear bankruptcy lawyers refer to it as the “new bankruptcy law,” but BAPCPA (bankruptcy reform) has been around since 2005. The goal of bankruptcy reform was to make it harder for debtors “who could afford to pay something back to their creditors” to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

How does the system determine whether you can afford to repay something to creditors? First, it looks at your income. If you earn less than the median for a Florida family of similar size, you’re presumptively entitled to file for Chapter 7. However, if your income is above the median, your income and expenses will be evaluated under the means test.

The means test is the signature “accomplishment” of bankruptcy reform. It is a complicated government formula that allows deduction of your actual expenses in some cases and only government allowed expenses in others. Too much disposable income after expenses disqualifies you from the relatively speedy Chapter 7 process. A good bankruptcy lawyer will be able to help you crunch the numbers to determine whether you qualify. If you don’t, there’s always Chapter 13.

Cost to file chapter 7 in Florida

The chapter 7 filing fees in Florida are $338, but that doesn’t tell the whole story of the real cost to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy lawyers usually charge between $1,000 and $2,000 to file a chapter 7 case, in addition to the filing fee.

Florida Bankruptcy Court Locations

Florida, like many larger states, is divided into multiple federal districts: Northern, Middle and Southern. Each district is further subdivided into divisions so that Floridians have relatively easy access to a federal court.

Here’s where you may have to file for bankruptcy if you live in Florida.

Northern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court

Gainesville: 401 SE First Ave., Gainesville, FL 32601, 866-639-4615

Panama City: 30 W. Government St., Panama City, Florida 32401, 866-639-4615

Pensacola: 100 N. Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32502, 866-639-4615

Tallahassee: 110 East Park Ave., Suite 100, Tallahassee, Florida 32301, 866-639-4615

Middle District of Florida Bankruptcy Court

Fort Myers: 2110 First St., Fort Myers, Florida 33901, 813-301-5162Note: this location does not accept bankruptcy filings

Jacksonville: 300 N. Hogan St., Suite 3-150, Jacksonville, Florida 32202, 904-301-6490 

Orlando: 400 W. Washington St., Suite 5100, Orlando, FL 32801, 407-237-8000

Tampa: 801 N. Florida Ave., Suite 555, Tampa, Florida 33602, 813-301-5162

Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court

Miami: 301 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33128, 305-714-1800 

Fort Lauderdale: 299 E. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301, 954-769-5700

West Palm Beach: 1515 N. Flagler Drive, West Palm Beach, FL 33401, 561-514-4100

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