Filing for bankruptcy in Maryland? Although most of bankruptcy (including the filing process) is governed by federal law, there is some Maryland-specific information you will need to file for bankruptcy. Much of this information you can get online. Here's how. (For more articles on the filing process, see Filing for Bankruptcy.)
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 Maryland 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.)
Maryland 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.)
To learn about Maryland’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Maryland and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Maryland. To find other Maryland exemptions, see Maryland 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, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.
When you file for bankruptcy in Maryland, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Maryland. 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 Maryland’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:
Here’s how to find the Maryland-specific figures for these means test forms:
Maryland median income. For a one-person household in Maryland, the median income is $57,455. For a family of three, the Maryland median income is $84,151. You can find figures for other household sizes in Maryland here.
Example. Andy and Kate are married and have one dependent child. Andy wants to file bankruptcy without Kate. Kate and Andy make $90,000 per year combined; Andy will not pass the means test initially. If you're married and file an individual bankruptcy case without your spouse, you must still include your spouse's income on the means test.
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 Maryland area, county, and region-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 Maryland, the standard amount you list on your means test for housing varies by county, and there's a separate set of deductions for filers who live in Baltimore City. For example, if you live in Baltimore County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $1,134 and your deduction for non-mortgage or rent housing expenses is $421 for a one-person household. But if you live in the City of Baltimore, the deduction is $456 for non-mortgage or rent expenses and $797 for mortgage or rent. You can find housing expense standards for each Maryland 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 Maryland’s bankruptcy court.)
Since there is only one judicial district in Maryland (see below for the link), you don’t need to worry about the rules for filing in the correct judicial district.
There is one bankruptcy court in Greenbelt and one in Baltimore. Local rules in Maryland require that you submit your creditors' matrix with your petition -- failure to do so will result in your case being dismissed. The mailing matrix is a list of all your creditors and their mailing addresses, as well as your own name and address. The matrix must be dated and it must contain a verification, signed by you, that the information is accurate and complete.