If you want to file for Chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy in Delaware, you'll have to complete a number of steps including, participating in both credit counseling and debtor education classes, completing a number of bankruptcy forms, and filing those forms in the Delaware bankruptcy court in Willmington.
Because bankruptcy is mostly governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Delaware is similar to other states. However, there is some Delaware-specific information you will need to include on your bankruptcy forms. You’ll also have to know about the Delaware bankruptcy exemptions and find an approved credit and debt counselor in Delaware.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
Here is the basic information you need to know before filing for bankruptcy in Delaware.
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 Delaware within the six month period before you file for bankruptcy. You’ll also have to take a debtor education course before you get a bankruptcy discharge. (To learn more about this requirement, including the rare exceptions, see Credit Counseling & Debtor Education Requirements in Bankruptcy.)
You can find the list of approved Delaware credit counseling agencies here.
You can find the list of approved Delaware debtor education agencies here.
Delaware has a set of bankruptcy exemptions which 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. (To learn more, see our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.)
In Delaware you cannot use the federal bankruptcy exemptions (some states do let you use the federal exemptions), you must use the Delaware 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 Delaware, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Delaware. 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 Delaware’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, 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 Delaware-specific figures for these means test forms:
Delaware median income figures. For a one-person household in Delaware, the median income is $48,049. For a family of three, the Delaware median income is $71,259. These figures change periodically. You can find the most current figures for each household size here.
Example. Al’s annual income is $45,000. He lives alone. He will automatically pass the means test because his income is below $48,049.
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 Delaware’s county-specific figures you’ll need for Forms 22A and 22C on the U.S. Trustee’s website at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform” and then “Means Testing Information.”
Example. In Delaware, the standard amount you list on your bankruptcy papers for housing varies by county. For example, if you live in Kent County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $917 for a one-person household. But if you live in Sussex County, the deduction is $852. You can find housing expense standards for each Delaware county 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 Delaware’s bankruptcy court.)
Since there is only one bankruptcy court in Delaware (see below for the link), you don’t need to worry about the rules for filing in the correct court.
The bankruptcy court in Delaware is located in Wilmington.