If you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona, you must file the bankruptcy petition and other forms in the appropriate Arizona district court as well as participate in credit counseling.
Because most of bankruptcy is governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Arizona is similar to other states. However, there is some Arizona-specific information you’ll need for the bankruptcy forms. You’ll also have to know about the Arizona bankruptcy exemptions, find an approved credit and debt counselor in Arizona, and get some information on local forms, like the mailing matrix. Here’s how.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must show that you received credit counseling from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee in Arizona within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a personal financial management class (also called debtor) before you get a bankruptcy discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
In Arizona, as in every other state, there are exemption laws that help determine what property you get to keep in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and play a role in how much you repay unsecured creditors in Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some states allow debtors to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions.) Arizona, however, does not. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
To learn about Arizona’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Arizona and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Arizona. To find other Arizona exemptions, see Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions.
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete a bankruptcy petition, a number of schedules containing detailed information about your finances, and several other forms, including a lengthy form known as the “means test” (for Chapter 7) and a similar form for Chapter 13.
(For a list of the forms you must complete, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.)
For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them and fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
When you file for bankruptcy in Arizona, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Arizona. 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, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years). This is called the means test.
If your income is above Arizona’s median income, you still might qualify for Chapter 7, but you’ll have to provide detailed information about your expenses and payments on secured debts in order to find out. Most Chapter 13 filers also have to provide this information.
For information about each of these forms, including how to complete them, 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).
Here’s how to find the Arizona-specific figures for these means test forms:
Arizona median income. For a one-person household in Arizona, the median income is $41, 385. For a two-person household it’s $53,781, for a family of three it’s $56,508, and more for larger families. You can find Arizona figures for other household sizes here.
Example. Margarita and Edgardo have one toddler. They file a joint bankruptcy. Their combined family income is $42,000. They will pass the means test because their family income is below the Arizona median income for a family of three.
Standard deductions. Forms 22A and 22C have a comprehensive list of expense categories, such as housing, transportation, food, and childcare. For some of those categories (like childcare), you provide the actual amount you spend. For others, you plug in a predetermined amount -- sometimes that figure is standard for the whole country, other times it varies by county or region.
You can find all of the Arizona area, borough, and region-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 22A and 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justic.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then “Means Testing Information.”
Example. If Margarita and Edgardo lived in Greenlee County, their standard deduction for rent or a mortgage would be $578, regardless of how much their rent or mortgage actually was. However, if they lived in Maricopa County, their deduction would be $1,310. You can find housing expense standards for each of the Arizona counties area here.
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 filing clerk. Some courts post these forms online on the court’s website. (Below you’ll find a link to Alabama’s bankruptcy court.)
For example, in Arizona the bankruptcy court has issued very specific guidelines for the mailing matrix (the list of all your creditors that you are required to file as part of your bankruptcy case). You can find those guidelines here.
Since there is only one judicial district in Arizona (see below for the link), you don’t need to worry about the rules for filing in the correct judicial district.
The Arizona bankruptcy court has courts and offices in Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma. There are also bankruptcy courtrooms in Flagstaff and Prescott.