How do i file for bankruptcy in ca?

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Filing for bankruptcy in California can be a complex and overwhelming process. It is important to understand the steps involved and the requirements to ensure a smooth and successful filing. This article will provide an in-depth guide on how to file for bankruptcy in California, covering the necessary forms, eligibility criteria, and other important considerations.

Types of Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, is the most common type of bankruptcy filed in California. It involves the liquidation of non-exempt assets to repay creditors and allows individuals to eliminate most of their unsecured debts.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as reorganization bankruptcy, involves creating a repayment plan to pay off creditors over a period of three to five years. This type of bankruptcy is suitable for individuals with a regular income who want to keep their assets and catch up on missed payments.

Eligibility for Bankruptcy

To file for bankruptcy in California, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. These criteria vary depending on the type of bankruptcy you wish to file:

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Eligibility: To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass the means test, which compares your income to the median income in California. If your income is below the median, you are eligible for Chapter 7. If your income is above the median, you may still qualify based on your disposable income and other factors.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Eligibility: Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not have a means test, but you must have a regular income and your unsecured debts must be below a certain threshold ($419,275 for unsecured debts and $1,257,850 for secured debts as of 2021).

Filing Process

1. Credit Counseling: Before filing for bankruptcy, you must complete a credit counseling course from an approved agency. This course can be taken online or over the phone and must be completed within 180 days prior to filing.

2. Complete Bankruptcy Forms: The next step is to complete the necessary bankruptcy forms. These forms include the petition, schedules, and statements that provide detailed information about your financial situation, assets, debts, and income.

3. Filing the Forms: Once the forms are completed, you must file them with the bankruptcy court in the district where you reside. You will also need to pay the filing fee, which is currently $335 for Chapter 7 and $310 for Chapter 13.

4. Automatic Stay: Once your bankruptcy forms are filed, an automatic stay goes into effect, which prohibits creditors from taking any further collection actions against you.

5. Meeting of Creditors: Approximately 20-40 days after filing, you will attend a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. During this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors have the opportunity to ask you questions about your financial situation.

6. Financial Management Course: Before receiving a discharge, you must complete a financial management course from an approved agency. This course provides education on budgeting, money management, and other financial topics.

7. Discharge: If you have completed all the requirements and there are no objections from creditors or the trustee, you will receive a discharge, which eliminates your personal liability for most debts.


Filing for bankruptcy in California can provide individuals with a fresh start and relief from overwhelming debt. However, it is essential to understand the process and meet the eligibility criteria to ensure a successful filing. By following the steps outlined in this article and seeking professional guidance if needed, individuals can navigate the bankruptcy process with confidence.


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