Are you a resident of Rhode Island and thinking of filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy? Because bankruptcy is mostly governed by federal bankruptcy laws, the general bankruptcy filing process in Rhode Island is similar to other states. However, there is some Rhode Island-specific information you will need to include on your bankruptcy forms. You can find this information online. 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island credit counseling agencies here.
You can find the list of approved Rhode Island debtor education agencies here.
Rhode Island 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.
In Rhode Island, you may use either the Rhode Island state exemptions or the federal bankruptcy exemptions. (To learn about the federal exemptions, see The Federal Bankruptcy Exemptions.). You cannot mix and match from each list. If you choose to use the Rhode Island state exemptions, you may also use any applicable amounts in the federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
To learn about Rhode Island’s exemptions for your home and car, see The Homestead Exemption in Rhode Island and The Motor Vehicle Exemption in Rhode Island. To find other Rhode Island exemptions and to learn more about exemptions and how they work, visit our Bankruptcy Exemptions area.
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 Rhode Island, you must compare your income to the median income for a household of your size in Rhode Island. 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 Rhode Island’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 Rhode Island-specific figures for these means test forms:
Rhode Island median income figures. For a two-person household in Rhode Island, the median income is $59,624. For a family of four, the Rhode Island median income is $86,267. For larger families, add $7,500 for each individual in excess of four. These figures change periodically. You can find the most current figures for each household size here.
Example. Bob’s annual income is $55,000. He lives with his wife. He will automatically pass the means test because his income is below $59,624.
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. For example, national standards have been established for food, clothing, and several other expenses. However, housing and utilities are based on a local standard while transportation costs are based on a region-specific standard.
You can find all of the national and Rhode Island-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 Rhode Island, the standard amount you list on your bankruptcy papers for housing varies by county. For example, if you live in Providence County, your mortgage or rent deduction is $1,424 for a two-person household. You can find housing expense standards for each Rhode Island county here. You can also find Rhode Island’s allowable transportation expenses 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 Rhode Island’s bankruptcy court.)
Since there is only one bankruptcy court in Rhode Island (see below for the link), you don’t need to worry about the rules for filing in the correct court.
The bankruptcy court in Rhode Island is located in Providence.