Forum Rules (Everyone Must Read!!!) (updated: 04/28/2015)

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Chapter 7 first time filer questions! Any input appreciated greatly.

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  • Chapter 7 first time filer questions! Any input appreciated greatly.


    I am so glad that I've found this forum and hopefully I can get some insight here.

    Me and my wife decided to file chapter 7 but only my wife is filing as a single filer. I don't really have debts and for credit purposes we decided it's unnecessary for me to join in chapter 7 party when I can protect my credit score.

    So, here's the facts:

    -My wife is 22, I am 26, and we are a young couple considering chapter 7.
    -I have had a job that pays me about 3k a month and she makes about the same but we only had about 20k on our last year tax return. My job is unstable and she started to work crazy overtime to achieve that and our 6 month average income to date is about 3500 a month before taxes and that's what it'll be like for a while till I can find a stable job.
    -We have a car that I pay 620 a month right now that I get help from my parents (I am a student), she has a car that she owes 14.1k on it that she is about 3 month in arrear.
    -She has medical bill of about $1400 altogether, $4600 to phone companies and $3400 of a student loan. There could be some more debts here and there but it's not showing on credit report (3 bureau).
    -We don't have any houses or anything.

    After considering her debts come to about 20k with our life not getting better she is filing chapter 7. She is deeply regretting her credit choices and needs a second chance of rebuilding it, acting more like an adult and a responsible one too.

    Now, the thing is, we live in Washington state but we are moving to California to be close to my parents in about 2 months.
    She's going to give up her car, I am not (I am not filing chapter 7 either) giving up my car as I have 0.9% APR on that car and it's got negative equity for purchasing 0 down brand new.
    She probably needs a car so we can go to work and stuff so before we are moving, we will save up about 6,000 so she can get a decent 5k car and pay taxes.
    Also, we will need to save up about 3k to move and pay first month rent, deposit etc.

    Now, by end of august, we should have about close to 10,000 in our bank account and she is scared that the bankruptcy court will freeze that account. If I keep it in my account, will she still have to spit it out? I mean we are not trying to trick them, we just need some money saved up without being scared of it taken away even though she owes those creditors whom they have rights to take them to pay off her debts. We are non-drug users, non alcohol drinker, no criminal histories, just people trying to make it in this world, so please no judgment there.

    We can't really afford attorney fees so we will file on our own. I saw somewhere that California lets you use wild card + whatever left over on homestead? I mean we have no real estate or houses to speak of. We don't owe anything valuable or fancy stuff anyhow.

    Also, would it be wise for us to file it in California or Washington state?

    Thank you!

  • #2
    Hello and welcome. No judgement here ~ we all have similar shoes, remember. ;)

    I just wanted to let you know that student loans are not generally discharged. There are only a handful of cases where they were, under specific, extenuating circumstances, which must be proven. So prepare yourself mentally for continuing to pay on those.

    If you're planning to file pro se (without an attorney), get a copy of the NOLO book about how to file Chapter 7. Each state has different laws regarding exemptions etc so I'm sorry I can't help with your specific questions about savings in California.


    • #3
      There are residency requirements that determine the state you file in (I think it's 6 months) so you don't really get to choose.

      You'll need to find some way to exempt that $10k savings, most likely through your wildcard or homestead exemption if the state you file in allows it.
      Transferring the money from her to you won't help; all such transfers have to be disclosed, and the trustee will ask about them at the hearing.

      The money that your parents are "helping" with might be considered income since you're a married couple, so you might need to include that in your chapter 7 means testing.

      As Chrysalis said, the student loan will almost certainly not be dischargeable.

      I know you want to file without an attorney, and that can certainly be done with the NOLO book and the resources here, but if I were you I'd at least go to a few attorney consultations just to see what they think of your case. You may decide that the cost is worth it...that's how it went with me.
      This post does not constitute legal advice. If you use this advice instead of that of a lawyer, God help you.
      Filed CH 7: 5/11/17 341: 6/12/17 Discharge: 8/14/17


      • #4
        Random comment about the hospital bill-- has your spouse contacted the medical facility billing office about "charity care"? At the hospital I work at, they have a program where you can have your bills reduced based on income.


        • #5
          If you haven't already you should consider meeting with a few attorneys to discuss some of these questions, even in you ultimately file without one. Things to consider are:
          - Will your not filing negatively impact you, since both California and Washington are community property states?
          - Will the money from family create problems in your filing?
          - Do better options exist for 1 or more of your cars (e.g. redemption)?

          And perhaps this isn't a question for a bankruptcy attorney, but I can't help but thinking:
          - Since you will likely not discharge your student loans, are there alternatives for the ~$16k debt you seek to discharge vs. bankruptcy?
          - Will your credit prevent you from being able to lease an apartment?

          Regardless of where you file, you will be using the Washington exemptions list. This is because you need to live in California for 2+ years before you can use CA exemptions. If you want to delay your filing by 2+ years, you will be able to use California's exemption list.

          Check out more about residency on


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