Filing for bankruptcy requires full disclosure of your income and expenses, debt and assets, and prior transactions on official bankruptcy forms. On one such form, Schedule J: Your Expenses, you provide details about your current household budget. The bankruptcy trustee—whose job it is to find funds to distribute to your creditors—will compare Schedule J to Schedule I: Your Income and determine whether you are paying your creditors the amount your budget allows.
For more information about other required forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms section.
The court and your bankruptcy trustee use Schedule J to determine several things, including:
If Schedule J shows that you have a lot of disposable income—meaning that you have money left over after paying your expenses—the court might decide that you are ineligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (even if you otherwise pass the bankruptcy means test). If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will use Schedule J to make sure you have enough money to make your monthly Chapter 13 plan payments (or that you’re not paying too little).
Schedule J is where you list your current monthly expenses and all of your dependents, whether living in your household or not. The form is self-explanatory and includes easy-to-understand instructions, so filling it out is simple—especially if you follow these tips:
You can find a downloadable, fillable version of the Schedule J: Your Expenses (and other official bankruptcy forms) on the U.S. Court’s website.
This article provides general information only. When filing for bankruptcy, you must understand the federal and state laws governing the entire bankruptcy process. Failing to adequately research and understand how these laws might affect your case could result in unexpected consequences. If you aren’t familiar with the process, it's best to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney, or, use a do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.