Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Colorado: 3 Things You Need to Know

If you've hit a rough patch financially and you're thinking about filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, it's a big decision, and there are a few key things you need to consider before diving in:
Information in this article does not constitute legal advice, it is for informational purposes only, and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers should contact their attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.
  1. First off, do you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy? And how much does it cost to file for bankruptcy in Colorado?
  2. Second, Chapter 7 bankruptcy might not be your only option. It's worth exploring alternatives before making a final decision. You want to make sure you've considered all the possibilities and chosen the best path forward for your situation.
  3. Lastly, if you do decide to go ahead with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are some specific things you need to know about how it works in Colorado.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy in the United States, I wouldn't be shocked if the majority of the 7,402 bankruptcies filed in Colorado between July 2020 and June 2021 were Chapter 7 bankruptcies.

You can check out this Colorado Chapter 7 Calculator below. It'll help you estimate your qualification and cost.

Let's dive deeper into why Chapter 7 is such a popular choice for folks in Colorado.

1) How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works in Colorado

There are two main questions to keep in mind when looking into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy:

  1. What is the time frame that Chapter 7 will discharge the debt?
  2. How much is it going to cost?

When comparing different ways to get out of debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is usually the cheapest and fastest option compared to Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt negotiation, debt management, and debt payoff planning.

How Fast Do You Get Relief in A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Colorado?

In Colorado, you can usually get a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge in as little as 120 days or four months.

When deciding to file a Chapter 7, you may hear the term "no-asset" in the Chapter 7 case. This means you may not have a house or any other valuable assets exceeding Colorado's bankruptcy exemptions. So, if you don't own any assets, this can be beneficial in Chapter 7, making it less complex. Remember that every case is unique, so you'll want to consult with an attorney if you are considering filing.

How Much Does It Cost To File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Colorado?

Nationwide, Chapter 7 usually ranges from $500 to $3000. But, in Colorado, the cost of Chapter 7 bankruptcy can vary depending on where you file. For instance, if you're in Aurora, you might pay around $1,170 for a bankruptcy attorney fee. But if you're in Denver, that fee might jump up to $1,500.

Sometimes, you may be able to reduce the cost of filing bankruptcy through a filing fee waiver.

How Do I Qualify For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Colorado?

Chapter 7 bankruptcies are designed for people who find themselves in a tight spot and can't afford to pay back any of their debts. But here's the catch: you've got to pass an income evaluation to qualify for a bankruptcy discharge.

If you manage to pass the Colorado bankruptcy means test, you can wipe away your unsecured debts through Chapter 7. "Unsecured debts" refers to debts that aren't backed by any collateral. This is medical bills, personal loans, certain old income tax debts, old utility bills, credit card debts, and most personal judgments can all be wiped clean with a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These debts are held by unsecured creditors who don't have any collateral to fall back on if you can't pay up. It's like a fresh start, wiping the slate clean and giving you a chance to breathe again.

What about secured debts in Chapter 7?

If you're looking to wipe out secured debts, such as car loans and mortgages, Chapter 7 may be able to help. However, you'll have to give up the asset to your creditor and they will have to consider it as payment in full for what you owe.

Now, let's dive into what it takes to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

IMPORTANT: Chapter 7 Qualification via Colorado Means Test

Filing for bankruptcy relief can be a complex process, but one crucial aspect is the Bankruptcy Means Test. This test calculates your average monthly and annual income. It then compares your income to the median income of other households in Colorado. If your average annual income or median income falls below the Colorado median income limit, you might qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7.

To figure out if you meet the requirements for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can use the Colorado Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test Calculator below.

What if My Income Exceeds The Chapter 7 Means Test Allowable in Colorado?

If your income is higher than the average income in your state, don't worry. There is a two-part test called the Means Test that you need to take a look at. It's not a simple pass-or-fail kind of test. Even if you "fail" the first part, there's still a chance to "pass" the second part and qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Colorado Income Limits

The Colorado median income figures for the Means Test are adjusted now and then, based on data from the IRS and the Census Bureau. So, if you're filing for bankruptcy in Colorado on or after November 1, 2023, here's what you need to know:

# of PeopleAnnual Income
1$74,274
2$97,698
3$115,443
4$130,450
5$140,350
6$150,250
7$160,150
8$170,050
9$179,950
  • For each additional family member beyond nine, you can add $9,000 to the threshold.

Be sure to check the US Trustees website for the most up-to-date figures.

Understand Colorado bankruptcy exemptions

Exemptions ensure that certain assets are protected from being sold off in a Chapter 7 liquidation case. So, if you have a property that's not covered by these exemptions, it might be able to be sold.

To compare, in a Chapter 13 case, if you have non-exempt equity in your property, it could increase the amount you have to pay in your bankruptcy plan.

This exemption has a few variations based on your age and marital status.

  • If you're single and under 65, you can protect up to $75,000 of your home's equity.
  • For single and 65 or older, that protection goes up to $105,000.
  • If you're married and under 65, you can protect up to $150,000.
  • For married and 65 or older, the protection is up to $210,000.

According to the Colorado bankruptcy laws, you can find this homestead exemption in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-41-201. It says that the real property, mobile home, manufactured home, or house trailer that you occupy can be protected up to $75,000. However, if you, your spouse, or a dependent is disabled or 60 years old or older, that protection increases to $105,000. Plus, any sale proceeds you receive from the property are exempt for up to two years.

If you want to see the federal bankruptcy exemptions, you can find them in the 11 U.S. Code §522 or go to the National Consumer Law Center has a list of federal bankruptcy exemptions on its website. Just keep in mind that Colorado doesn't allow you to use these federal exemptions.

Always double-check that you have the most up-to-date information when it comes to analyzing bankruptcy exemptions.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Pros and Cons

Like any debt relief option, Chapter 7 has its upsides and downsides. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there's a chance you might end up losing your home. Now, let's dive into the pros and cons.

Pros

  1. Affordable debt relief solution
  2. You can receive a discharge in about 120 days.
  3. Fresh start that allows you to discharge the debt.
  4. You may be able to keep your home and belongings due to exemptions.
  5. It can put a stop to debt collection lawsuits. No more constant phone calls, threatening letters, or fear of legal action.
  6. No more deficiency. This is when you owe more on a loan than what your collateral is worth and the difference is called a deficiency, but a Chapter 7 can wipe it away.
  7. Provides relief for unaffordable unsecured debts.

Cons

  1. There are income requirements for qualification that you need to meet.
  2. You may potentially lose your home and other belongings if your assets exceed the exemption limit.
  3. It'll have a negative credit report impact for 10 years.
  4. It may have a negative credit score impact.
  5. If you have non-dischargeable debt it may not be able to be wiped away. These are debts such as student loans and taxes that may not be able to be included.
  6. Difficult to prevent foreclosure

Now that we've covered the pros and cons, let's move on to exploring some alternatives to Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado.

2) Alternatives to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If you feel like Chapter 7 bankruptcy might not be the right fit for you, maybe you don't qualify, have too many assets, or simply don't want to go down that road, there are alternatives to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Other options include Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt settlement, debt management, consolidation loans, and debt payoff planning.

A debt consolidation loan combines all your debts into one payment. This allows you to take out a loan to pay off your various creditors, leaving you with just one monthly payment. It makes it easier to keep track of your payments but keep in mind that you are still paying off the full amount.

a) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

What are some alternatives to Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Well, there are a couple worth considering. One option is to consider Chapter 13 bankruptcy over Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can restructure your debts into a more manageable monthly plan. This means you may be able to afford your house and car payments easier.

There are many benefits to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. First off, it can put a stop to foreclosures, repossessions, and even wage garnishments. You can also catch up on mortgage payments, past-due car payments, and tax debt over three to five years through the bankruptcy plan. Chapter 13 bankruptcy might also allow you to reduce unpaid child support and alimony. However, it's important to note that you must continue making your regular domestic support payments to stay in Chapter 13. In a Chapter 13 plan, some people may be able to lower their car loan payments and potentially get rid of second mortgages, as long as they meet certain requirements.

Can you afford Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

A Chapter 13 repayment plan can be complex, so you may want to ask an attorney about it. There are the attorney fees as well as a repayment plan that looks at non-exempt equity and disposable income to determine how much, if any, of the debt you may pay back. Feel free to check out the Chapter 13 calculator to get an estimate.

Check out our calculator below to get an estimate.

ADD CALCULATOR HERE

b) Debt Relief

If you're thinking of going the debt settlement route, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, consider the impact it might have on your credit score.

When you partner with a debt settlement firm, they will make you fall behind on the accounts you choose to include by about 6 months. They will then negotiate with your creditors on a lower overall amount you pay back over 2-4 years. This may hurt your credit score since you have to fall behind.

Ultimately, it is up to your creditors if they want to agree or deny negotiations, so there is quite a bit of risk involved. If they agree, then you pay the lower amount through an escrow account, but they will expect you to keep up on all the payments. However, if the creditors disagree, they may try to sue you. However, you can choose which accounts to include in the program. There also may be potential taxes on the forgiven debt, so be sure to consult with the firm to understand more about the process.

c) Debt Management

Debt management companies focus on negotiating lower interest rates and the program usually lasts for about 3 to 5 years. Credit counseling is generally a more expensive option compared to the others. Some creditors, like some personal loan lenders, may not want to work with a debt management company. There is also a potential impact on your credit score.

Debt management can be a good option for those who have a bunch of high-interest credit card debt. The firm will work to significantly lower those so you can pay on the principle.

If you're considering debt management in Colorado, it may be a better option if you have a significant amount of high-interest credit card debt. By reducing your interest rate from, let's say, 22-30% to a more manageable 10%, you can make your debt more affordable. This can be a beneficial solution for individuals in this particular situation.

d) Debt Payoff Planning

Debt can make it feel like you're drowning, with interest piling up very quickly. But don't worry, you have options, such as debt payoff planning.

Debt payoff planning involves cutting down on expenses and putting any cash flow you have toward your debts to avoid interest charges. This isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Depending on the size of your financial hardship, it may not be feasible for everyone. Payoff planning means you are paying the full amount back, so it's helpful if you can afford your debt but want to pay it off more efficiently.

There is an app called the Savvy debt payoff planner that will help you prioritize your debts by combining efficient methods to create a plan to pay things off as quickly as possible. On average, it saves folks around $2,000 in interest.

3) Specific Colorado Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information:

If you're wondering if Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the way to go, it's important to understand these key points before filing.

First off, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as "liquidation bankruptcy" which means that if you qualify, your non-exempt assets may be sold to pay off your debts. The good news is that Colorado has its own set of exemptions that protect certain types of property from being liquidated. These exemptions can include things like your home, car, personal belongings, and even retirement accounts. So, it's crucial to understand what assets are protected under Colorado law.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals to wipe out their debts and start fresh. One of the major benefits of Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that it provides immediate relief from creditors coming after you. As we talked about before, you have to qualify so it's important to assess your income and determine if you meet the criteria for Chapter 7. Another challenge to consider is the impact on your credit score.

However, not all debts can be wiped out through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Certain types of debts, like student loans and child support payments, are generally not dischargeable. It may also have a significant impact on your credit score, which can potentially make it harder for you to get approved for loans or credit cards in the future. But, with some time and responsible financial behavior, you can rebuild your credit score and get back on track.

Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses

When you're going through the bankruptcy process, there are a couple of courses you need to take which are required if you want a discharge.

The first course you need to take is a credit counseling course. This has to be done before you file your bankruptcy case. It's designed to guide you and help you understand your financial situation better.

The second course is called a debtor education course. It's meant to educate you on financial management and give you the tools you need to make better financial decisions in the future and get back on your feet after bankruptcy.

The United States Trustee's Office has approved certain companies in Colorado that offer these bankruptcy courses. You can find a list of these companies on the UST website and these courses can be completed online. There is a small fee involved, but they're designed to help you navigate through the bankruptcy process and improve your financial future.

Colorado Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Court Locations

When filing for bankruptcy, you will have to attend the 341 meetings of creditors. A lot of these meetings have been happening over the phone or through Zoom. But, if you have a meeting that needs to happen in person, it's important to know where the courthouse is.

District of Colorado

  • 901 19th Street, Denver, CO 80294
  • 1929 Stout Street, Denver, CO 80294
  • 212 N. Wahsatch Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80903
  • 400 Rood Avenue, Grand Junction, CO 81501
  • La Plata County Courthouse at 1060 E. 2nd Avenue, Suite 150, Durango, CO 81301

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees Colorado

Below, you'll find a list of Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees in Colorado, broken down by bankruptcy district. If you prefer, you can also check out the list here.

NamePhone
Robertson B. Cohen(303) 933-4529
Tom H. Connolly(303) 661-9292
Daniel A. Hepner(303) 444-5141
Jeffrey L. Hill(303) 708-1300
Jeanne Yendrek Jagow(303) 798-1255
Dennis W. King(303) 751-3200
Kevin P. Kubie(719) 545-1153
David E. Lewis(303) 666-1217
Joli A. Lofstedt(303) 661-9292
Lynn T. Martinez(719) 542-6707
M. Stephen Peters(303) 422-8501
Simon E. Rodriguez(303) 969-9100
Harvey Sender(303) 454-0525
John C. Smiley(303) 454-0508
David V. Wadsworth, II(303) 296-1999
Jared C. Walters(970) 456-3395
Jeffrey A. Weinman(303) 572-1010

Before you jump into filing for bankruptcy, make sure to review the local bankruptcy rules specific to Colorado. These rules might have some slight differences from the Federal Bankruptcy Rules.

Conclusion

Now that you have a lot more information about filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Colorado, you might be curious about whether you qualify and how much it'll cost you. Feel free to take this Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test calculator below that can give you an estimate.

Now, most people choose to work with a bankruptcy attorney when filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. But, you have the option to file for bankruptcy without an attorney. If you're curious about how that works, head on over to this article on filing bankruptcy without an attorney. It's a great resource if you're considering going the DIY route!

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