If you live in Georgia and want to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must participate in credit counseling before you file, complete the bankruptcy petition and other required forms, and file those forms in a Georgia bankruptcy court. After filing, you must complete debtor counseling before receiving your discharge.
Because bankruptcy is mostly governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Georgia is similar to other states. However, there is some Georgia-specific information you will need to include on your bankruptcy forms. You’ll also have to know about the Georgia bankruptcy exemptions and find an approved credit and debt counselor in Georgia.
(For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
Here is some basic information you need to know before filing for bankruptcy in Georgia.
Pre-Bankruptcy Credit Counseling and Pre-Discharge Debtor Education in Georgia
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 Georgia 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 Georgia credit counseling agencies here.
You can find the list of approved Georgia debtor education agencies here.
Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions
Georgia 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 Georgia, you are not allowed to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions (unlike some states, which do allow their use). Instead, you must use the Georgia state exemptions.
To learn about Georgia’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Georgia and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Georgia For a list of other common exemptions in Georgia, see Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions.
Completing the Bankruptcy Forms in Georgia
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.)
Getting and Completing the Official Bankruptcy Forms
For more information about each of the official forms, including how to find them and fill them out, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
Finding Means Test Information for Georgia
When you file for bankruptcy in Georgia, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Georgia. 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 Georgia’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 Georgia-specific figures for these means test forms:
Georgia median income figures. For a one-person household in Georgia, the median income is $39,694. For a family of three, the Georgia median income is $55,711. These figures change periodically. You can find the most current figures for each household size here.
Example. Steven’s annual income is $35,000. He lives alone. He will automatically pass the means test because his income is below $39,694.
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 Georgia’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 Georgia, the standard amount you list on your bankruptcy papers for housing varies by county. For example, if you live in Fulton County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $1,247 for a one-person household. But if you live in Gwinnett County, the deduction is $1,074. You can find housing expense standards for each Georgia county here.
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 filing clerk. Some courts post these forms online on the court’s website. (Below you’ll find a link to Georgia’s bankruptcy courts.)
Filing in the Correct Georgia Bankruptcy Court
There are three judicial districts in Georgia (see below for links). You can file in either:
- the district where you have been living for the greater part of the 180-day period before you file, or
- the district where you are domiciled—that is, where you intend to maintain your home, even if you have been living elsewhere temporarily (such as a military base).
Finding the Georgia Bankruptcy Courts
You can use the Court Locator tool on the U.S. Trustee’s website to find bankruptcy court locations and websites. The three district bankruptcy courts in Georgia are: