Filing for bankruptcy in the the District of Columbia? The general bankruptcy filing process in Washington D.C. is similar to other states because most of the bankruptcy process is governed by federal law. However, you will need to include some District of Columbia-specific information on your bankruptcy forms. Much of this you can find online.
Here is some information to get you started.
Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling and Pre-Discharge Debtor Education
Before you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must have proof that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in the District of Columbia within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a debtor education course after you file, before you will be granted a discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
Washington D.C. has a set of bankruptcy exemptions which help determine what property you get to keep in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay creditors in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
In the District of Columbia, you can choose between federal or District of Columbia exemptions.
To learn about District of Columbia’s exemptions for your home and car, including the federal option, see The Homestead Exemption in the District of Columbia and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in the District of Columbia.
Completing the Bankruptcy Forms
Whether you file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you need to fill out a bankruptcy petition, several schedules containing detailed information on what you own and who you owe money to, and several other forms containing detailed information on your finances. You also need to file a lengthy form known as the "means test" to see if you qualify for a Chapter 7 and a similar form for a Chapter 13.
(For a list of the forms you must complete, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)
Getting and Completing the Official Bankruptcy Forms
For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
Finding Means Test Information
When you file for bankruptcy in Washington D.C., you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Washington D.C. If your income is less than the median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13 instead, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years).
If your income is above Washington D.C.'s median income for a household of your size, you still might qualify for Chapter 7, but you will have to provide detailed information on your regular expenses and payments on secured debts by completing something called the means test to find out. Most Chapter 13 filers will also have to provide this information in a similar Chapter 13 form.
For information about each of these forms, see:
- Form 22A–Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation (for Chapter 7), and
- Form 22C –Statement of Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period and Disposable Income (for Chapter 13).
Getting Local Bankruptcy Forms
Some judicial districts and bankruptcy courts require bankruptcy filers to complete additional "local forms." To find out if your court requires additional forms, contact the bankruptcy clerk’s office. You might even find these forms posted online at your bankruptcy court’s website. (Below you will find a link to the bankruptcy court in the District of Columbia.)
Filing in the Bankruptcy Court
There is only one federal judicial district in the District of Columbia, so you don’t have to worry about filing in the correct judicial district as long as
- you have lived in the District of Columbia for the greater part of the 180 days before you file, or
- you have been domiciled (which is the place where you maintain your home with evidence of the intent to stay) in the District of Columbia, if you have been living elsewhere temporarily (such as on a military deployment or out of the area for temporary work assignment).
If you don’t meet this requirement, you might need to file in the state that you previously resided in.