Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Virginia: 3 Things You Need to Know

So, you've hit a rough patch financially and are considering filing for bankruptcy in Virginia, specifically Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Before you make any decisions, there are a few important things to note.
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.
  • First, it can sometimes help to determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and what it will cost you. We created the Virginia Chapter 7 Calculator tool to help you estimate your qualifications and costs. It can help give you an idea of what to expect.
  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy might seem the only option, but that may not be true. There are alternatives out there that might be a better fit for your situation. It can sometimes be helpful to explore all your options before diving headfirst into Chapter 7.
  • Lastly, if you decide to go down the Chapter 7 route, there are some specific things you need to know about filing for bankruptcy in Virginia. Every state should have its qualification criteria and regulations, so being informed is crucial.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is no stranger to the United States. It's the most common type of bankruptcy filing. If we look at the numbers, it wouldn't be surprising if most of the 13,924 bankruptcies filed in Virginia in the year ending June 30, 2021, were Chapter 7 bankruptcies. It's a great tool to help people eliminate their debts and get back on track.

If you're more of a visual learner, don't worry! We've got you covered. You can check out the Virginia Chapter 7 Calculator below for a quick estimate of your qualifications and cost.

Now, let's dive into why Chapter 7 can be such a great tool to eliminate your debt.

1) How Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Works in Virginia

We often hear that many people have been struggling with these two things related to their debt:

  1. How quickly can they eliminate their debt?
  2. And how much is it going to cost them to make that happen?

When comparing different ways to get rid of debt, Chapter 7 bankruptcy seems to be the winner in both areas. It beats out other options like Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt negotiation, debt management, and debt payoff planning regarding total cost.

How Fast Do You Get Relief in A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Virginia

Typically, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your debts are discharged anywhere from 90-120 days after your file date. The time can vary depending on anything that comes up during your case. This is unlikely, but it can still happen. You could have your fresh start in three to four months and be back on track.

Typically, the fastest and easiest Chapter 7 cases are those with no assets. When we say "no-asset Chapter 7 case," we mean that you do not have any assets above the state's exemptions, like a house or a car. Each state has exemptions - either at the state or federal level. Exemptions are a dollar amount of equity in an asset you can protect in a bankruptcy case.

Why is this significant? Well, it means that your bankruptcy process can move quickly. You will be back on your feet and rebuilding your credit in a few months - not years.

Before moving forward, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be crucial in getting your financial life back on track, it is not the most straightforward process in the world. There are some challenges you'll have to face along the way.

First, you may have to meet specific eligibility requirements to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This includes passing the "means test" to prove your income is below a certain threshold. Like every other state, Virginia's Chapter 7 Bankruptcy income limit guideline will inform you what you must fall within to reach a Chapter 7 discharge. If you are over the median income, you still might be able to qualify, but it mainly comes down to your disposable income.

Secondly, bankruptcy may have an impact on your credit score. Chapter 7 will stay on the report for about ten years from the filing date. This does not mean you will be banned from credit; it just means you must work to rebuild your credit. Once you establish some credit post-bankruptcy discharge, it will get easier as time goes on.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be a game-changer, offering you a fresh start in just a few short months. Challenges may be along the way, but it is 100% worth it.

How Much Does It Cost To File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Virginia

If you are considering filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you probably wonder what it will cost. The nationwide average for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually falls between $500 and $3000. That amount could be higher or lower depending on many factors such as location, case complexity, attorney experience, etc.

Consider Virginia, for instance. Total filing costs for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may vary significantly. Surprisingly, fees can fluctuate even within the state, depending on the city. Take Chesapeake and Norfolk, for example. In Chesapeake, you might expect to pay around $1,000 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney. However, that figure could increase to $1,500 or more if you are located near Virginia Beach. These are just averages, though; your actual cost can vary.

In some situations, you may be able to bring down the cost of filing for bankruptcy. You can achieve this by filling out a filing fee waiver. You may qualify for a fee waiver if you are within 150% of the poverty level for your state. This applies to any state, not just Virginia.

How Do I Qualify For Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Virginia?

Chapter 7 Bankruptcies can be a lifeline for people drowning in debt who can't afford to pay it back. It's a way to get a fresh start and clean the slate. Not everyone can qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Let's take a look at some qualification criteria to keep in mind.

One of the first hurdles you'll have to clear is the income evaluation, called the means test. The means test is a set of guidelines that each state has. It is based off of the median income for your state. If you are above the income, you still may be able to qualify. To receive a Chapter 7 discharge, however, you must be within these guidelines.

In Virginia, you must look at the bankruptcy means test. This test can determine if your income is low enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You can find out if you may or may not be eligible here:

If you pass the means test, you are one step closer to debt-free. You'll be able to discharge most of your unsecured debts. Many people get confused between unsecured and secured debts. What are the differences? Unsecured debts are debts that aren't tied to any collateral. We're talking about medical bills, personal loans, old income tax debt, utility bills, credit card debts, and most personal judgments. Most, if not all, of these are dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

What about secured debts in Chapter 7?

Secured debts are handled differently. Secured debts are debts such as car loans and mortgages tied to an asset. You may be able to discharge secured debts in Chapter 7, but you will most likely have to surrender the asset. This is common with people who may be upside down on a car loan and want to offer the car they can no longer afford.

Let's look at what it takes to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

IMPORTANT: Chapter 7 Qualification via Virginia Means Test

One crucial thing you need to know about is the Bankruptcy Means Test. It's like a form, but don't worry, it's not as complicated as it sounds. This test helps calculate your average monthly and annual income and then compares it to the median income of other households in Virginia.

Here's the deal: if your income is lower than the Virginia median income, you might qualify for a bankruptcy discharge under Chapter 7. That means you could get a fresh start. But how do you know if you will be eligible? You can try our free Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test Calculator below. It'll give you a quick estimate to see if Chapter 7 may be an option for you.

Help! My Income Exceeded The Chapter 7 Means Test Allowable in Virginia

If your income is higher than the average income in your state, this does happen, but it may not be an automatic denial. A two-part Means Test determines if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. It is more complex than a pass/fail system. After the first section, if you appear not to modify, there's still a chance to succeed in the second section and be eligible for Chapter 7.

You can find additional information if you're curious to learn how to pass the Chapter 7 means test when your income is above the median.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Virginia Income Limits

Let's talk about something that affects many people: the Virginia median income figures for the Means Test. These numbers are adjusted periodically based on IRS and Census Bureau data. If you're filing for bankruptcy in Virginia on or after November 1, 2023, you'll want to pay attention to these figures.

# of PeopleAnnual Income
1$72,761
2$91,707
3$112,281
4$134,145
5$144,045
6$153,945
7$163,845
8$173,745
9$183,645

You may wonder: "What if more than nine people are in my household?" Well, in that case, you may be able to add an extra $9,000 for each additional family member. It's essential to keep this in mind when you're calculating the Means Test. If you have specific questions, meeting with an attorney to review those figures may be best.

These figures are subject to change, so double-checking the U.S. Trustees website for the most up-to-date information is always a good idea. Trust me; you don't want to rely on outdated figures and think you do not qualify when you may have.

The Virginia median income figures for the Means Test. Stay informed, stay savvy, and always do your homework regarding financial matters.

Will I lose my belongings if I file Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Understand Virginia bankruptcy exemptions.

Let's talk about bankruptcy exemptions and how they may protect your property in a bankruptcy case. These exemptions can help because they may allow you to keep some of your assets even after bankruptcy. However, it's important to note that any property not protected by these exemptions may be sold off in a Chapter 7 liquidation case. In Chapter 13 cases, the non-exempt equity in your property can also affect your bankruptcy plan payment. So, it's something to keep in mind.

Let's focus on one of the most valuable assets for many people: their home. You may want to know about the Virginia bankruptcy homestead exemption. This exemption varies depending on your age and marital status. If you're single and under 65, you may be able to protect up to $5,000 of equity in your home. The same goes for single individuals who are 65 or older. If you're married and under 65, you may be able to protect up to $10,000; the same amount applies if you're married and 65 or older. It's a good idea to take note of these figures.

For those interested, the Virginia-specific homestead bankruptcy exemption is covered under "Va. Code Ann. § 34-4." Remember, you may need to file a homestead declaration before filing for bankruptcy. This exemption might allow for $5,000 plus an additional $500 per dependent. You can exempt rents, profits, and sale proceeds up to $5,000. If you're married, you and your spouse might have the ability to double the exemption, and any unused portion of the homestead could be applied to other personal property. If you're 65 or older, the exemption amount increases to $10,000. Make sure to speak with an attorney for more information.

It's worth mentioning that there are additional bankruptcy exemptions available in Virginia. Reviewing them thoroughly and choosing the ones that best protect your assets can be essential. If you're interested in federal bankruptcy exemptions, you can find detailed information in "11 U.S. Code §522." However, remember that Virginia might not allow you to use federal bankruptcy exemptions. So, make sure you know your state's specific rules and regulations.

Lastly, always use the most up-to-date information when analyzing bankruptcy exemptions. Things can change, and it's crucial to be aware of the changes to make an informed decision.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Virginia Pros and Cons

Now, we will talk about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia today. Now, just like any other debt relief option, it has its fair share of pros and cons. Let's weigh the pros and cons.

Let's say you have lived in your Virginia Beach home for many years and built up a lot of equity that could cause a problem. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might risk losing your home due to equity. It might sound scary, but there are other options that we can discuss later.

Pros and Cons:

Pros

Dealing with debt can be overwhelming, but options are available to help you find relief. One of the least expensive debt relief options is filing for bankruptcy. Let's take a look at the details of the bankruptcy process.

  • You may receive a discharge in about 120 days when you file for bankruptcy. A discharge means your debts are wiped away, giving you a fresh start. It's like hitting the reset button on your finances. But that's not all - bankruptcy also offers the potential to keep your home and belongings. This way, you may not worry about losing everything you've worked so hard for.
  • Another benefit of bankruptcy is that it stops debt collection lawsuits—no more constant calls from creditors or intimidating letters in the mail. Bankruptcy provides a legal shield that protects you from these aggressive tactics. Once the automatic stay comes into place, it is very challenging for creditors to contact you - they typically can only get your attorney.
  • In some instances, a bankruptcy filing can eliminate a deficiency. This is common when you owe more on something than it's worth. Well, bankruptcy can help with that. It can wipe away the remaining debt on a repossessed car or a foreclosed home, saving you from paying the difference.
  • Lastly, bankruptcy can relieve the burden of unaffordable unsecured debt. Credit card bills, medical expenses, and personal loans can be included in your bankruptcy filing. It's like a weight being lifted off your shoulders, giving you the chance to breathe a little easier.

If you're overwhelmed by your financial situation, it might be worth exploring bankruptcy as a debt relief option. It's a chance to start fresh, regain control of your finances, and leave those money worries behind.

Cons

Let's look at some of the negative implications of bankruptcy:

  • Income requirements for qualification
  • Potential risk of losing your home and belongings
  • It impacts your credit report and score, and some debts are non-dischargeable.
  • There may be a challenge in preventing foreclosure.

2) Alternatives to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Virginia

Bankruptcy may or may not be a good fit for you. Handling your debt is not a one-size-fits-all scenario. Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn't the only option out there. You can explore many other alternatives if you don't qualify for Chapter 7, have too many assets, or don't want to go down that road. Let's dive right in and check them out!

a) Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Virginia

If your annual income exceeds the median income and you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, don't fret! You can potentially achieve debt relief through Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia. This option allows you to restructure your debts into a more manageable monthly plan, giving you a chance to protect your assets.

But that's not all! Chapter 13 can pause foreclosures, repossessions, and even wage garnishments in Virginia. It can be a significant stress reliever for many people. Plus, with Chapter 13, you can gradually repay your mortgage arrears, catch up on missed car payments, and even tackle tax debt that is in arrears over three to five years.

The State of Virginia might just cut you some slack on unpaid child support and alimony, allowing you to breathe a little easier. Remember, you must keep up with your regular support payments to stay in the Chapter 13 game.

In some instances, debtors might even be able to lower their car loan payments and discharge those second mortgages goodbye, as long as they meet specific requirements. It would be best to speak with an attorney for specifics.

If you're overwhelmed by debt and do not know where to turn, Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia could be your ticket to financial freedom. It's time to take control of your situation and make those debts a thing of the past.

Can you afford Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

If you don't qualify for a Virginia Chapter 7 bankruptcy, is Chapter 13 a better option? You might wonder if you should go for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. Can you afford it? It might sound strange to ask if you can afford bankruptcy, but trust me, it's an important question.

To figure out if you can potentially afford a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you might want to try the Chapter 13 calculator. It's right below; click this link: Chapter 13 calculator. This tool will help you estimate whether you can handle the monthly payment and give you an estimate of what that monthly payment would look like.

b) Debt Relief

Debt relief might be a good option as well. It can be cheaper than Debt Management and Debt Payoff Planning. In a debt relief program, the companies negotiate with your creditors to lower the total amount you owe. We even wrote a whole article on the differences in pricing estimates between debt management and debt settlement. It could help clear up any confusion.

If you're thinking about going the debt settlement route, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First off, there's the impact on your credit score. We've got an article that breaks it all down for you. Please pay attention to the pros and cons of debt settlement; it is crucial to understand the pros and cons of each. It's always good to know what you're getting into. Be clear of any debt settlement companies that raise red flags. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

c) Virginia Debt Management

Debt settlement companies negotiate lower amounts. However, debt management companies take a different approach. They focus on negotiating lower interest rates and fees. That's the critical difference right there. Debt management programs usually last around 3 to 5 years. They can be more expensive than debt settlement since you pay back 100% of your balance. Some creditors, like those personal loan lenders, might not work with a debt management company. Debt management can have some credit score implications, too. So, keep that in mind. The credit score implications may not be as dire as other options, but it is important to note that it may still have some effects.

Debt management could be a great fit if you have significant credit card debt with high-interest rates. On average, we have seen rates go from 25 -30% down to around 7%. Some accounts may be more or less, but the average is 7%. That saves you some serious money in the long run on interest alone. Debt management can also make your monthly payments more manageable as well.

d) Virginia Debt Payoff Planning

Being buried under tremendous debt can be very frustrating and overwhelming. It is like trying to climb out of a deep hole with no end in sight. If none of the above options sounded good, you may want to consider debt payoff planning.

Debt payoff planning is about finding clever ways to reduce expenses and paying extra on your debts monthly - or whenever possible. The main goal of this plan is to pay the balance down faster so you pay less in interest over the long run.

Debt payoff planning might not be a magic solution for everyone. Depending on the size of your financial hardship, it might be more of a challenge than the other options we discussed. It does not mean it will not work; it may take creativity and discipline to make it happen.

3) Specific Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Information:

You've taken the first two steps and might wonder whether Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the way to go. Let's dive into some fundamental things about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia. These attributes will help you make your decision.

Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Courses

When going through the bankruptcy process under Chapter 7, you may have to complete a couple of courses to get a bankruptcy discharge. First, you must take a credit counseling course before filing for bankruptcy. This course helps you understand your financial situation and explore alternatives to bankruptcy. It's all about getting a clear picture of where you stand and how to prevent this from happening.

Once you've filed for bankruptcy, it's time for step two: the debtor education course. This course is designed to give you the knowledge and tools you need to manage your finances wisely in the future. It covers topics like budgeting, credit management, and financial planning. This course takes a bit longer; however, you may find most of the information helpful.

You might be wondering where to find these approved courses in Virginia. The United States Trustee's office can point you in the right direction. They've approved certain companies in each state to offer these bankruptcy courses. You can check out the list of approved companies in Virginia on the UST website. Just click on the links below, and you'll be on your way:

- Credit Counseling Approved Courses

- Debtor Education Approved Courses

Both courses are available online, so you can complete them from home. Just keep in mind that there's usually a small fee involved. If you are filing for bankruptcy before purchasing the course, check with your attorney. Often, attorney fees include the fees for the education courses.

Virginia Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Court Locations

Many people get anxious when they hear about the 341 creditors' meeting. The pandemic shifted how the bankruptcy court process works. Many, if not all, of these meetings have been happening over the phone or through Zoom. It can make it much more convenient for everyone involved. There is a slim possibility that your meeting may be in person. If that is the case, you can find some courthouse locations below.

The district you are in depends on what part of the state you live in. Most districts have different courthouses where these hearings may take place. It all depends on which bankruptcy district you're in.

- [Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Virginia](link-to-court-locations)

- [Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia](link-to-court-locations)

Make sure to check out the specific court location based on your district.

Eastern District

Let's discuss some essential places in Virginia. We're talking about the courthouses; most legal proceedings are held here.

First, we have the Albert V. Bryan U.S. Courthouse at 401 Courthouse Square in Alexandria, VA.

Next on our list is the Walter E. Hoffman United States Courthouse, situated at 600 Granby Street in Norfolk, VA.

Next, we have the Spottswood W. Robinson III and Robert R. Merhige, Jr., Federal Courthouse. This courthouse is located at 701 East Broad Street in Richmond, VA.

Lastly, we have the United States Courthouse at 2400 West Avenue in Newport News, VA.

Western

Hey there! I've got you covered if you want some addresses in Abingdon, Virginia. Check out these two locations:

1. 180 W. Main Street, Room 104, Abingdon, VA 24210

2. 312 Cummings Street, Suite D, Abingdon, VA 24210

These addresses are ready to help you find your way around Abingdon. Whether visiting or looking for a place to call home, these spots have covered you. Happy exploring!

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Trustees Virginia

If you're looking for a list of Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustees in Virginia, you've come to the right place. I've got a list of them here broken down by bankruptcy district. You can check out the list here if you prefer to see it visually. Cool, right?

DistrictNamePhone
EasternPeter J. Barrett(804) 343-5237
EasternWilliam A. Broscious(804) 516-0670
EasternKaren M. Crowley(757) 333-4500
EasternThomas B. Dickenson(757) 489-1300
EasternH. Jason Gold(202) 712-2819
EasternDonald F. King(703) 218-2116
EasternKevin R. McCarthy(703) 770-9261
EasternJanet M. Meiburger(703) 556-7871
EasternDaniel A. Raymond(757) 565-0423
EasternBruce E. Robinson(434) 447-7922
EasternDavid R. Ruby(804) 698-6220
EasternTom C. Smith, Jr.(757) 428-3481
EasternClara P. Swanson(757) 873-0470
EasternLynn L. Tavenner(804) 783-8300
EasternJennifer J. West(804) 697-2094
WesternWilliam E. Callahan, Jr.(540) 983-9309
WesternScot S. Farthing(276) 625-0222
WesternAndrew S. Goldstein(540) 343-9800
WesternSteven L. Higgs(540) 400-7990
WesternHannah W. Hutman(540) 433-2444
WesternW. Stephen Scott(434) 227-5520
WesternRobert S. Stevens(434) 973-5012
WesternGeorge I. Vogel, II(540) 982-1220

Before you get started, there's something you should know. Reviewing the local bankruptcy rules in Virginia may be helpful before filing your bankruptcy case. You want to be on the safe side. Some of those local rules might differ from the Federal Bankruptcy Rules. If you have questions or concerns, consult a local attorney to help you decide.

Conclusion

Getting out of debt is not a one-size-fits-all. Now that we have given you a lot of information about Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Virginia. Hopefully, you'll feel a little more knowledgeable about the topic. If you're still curious about whether you qualify and how much it might cost you, you can try the Chapter 7 bankruptcy calculator below.

We've got you covered if you want to dive even deeper into the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. Check out our article on the subject right here. It's chock-full of helpful info to help you navigate the ins and outs of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Most people prefer to work with a bankruptcy attorney regarding Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. You can file without an attorney if you'd like to do so. If you're curious about how to go about filing bankruptcy without an attorney, we've got you covered. Head over to this link to learn about filing bankruptcy without an attorney. It may be worthwhile to spend a few minutes reading it!

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