How Bankruptcy Works in Texas

If your financial situation is getting tougher to control, you might consider filing for bankruptcy in Texas.

The first step in regaining financial stability is understanding the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once you decide which type of bankruptcy will benefit you more, this article will help you find other information you’ll need to complete the paperwork you’ll file, such as official bankruptcy forms, Texas means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll find links to information about protecting property in a Texas bankruptcy.

Official Bankruptcy Forms

You’ll disclose all aspects of your financial circumstances to the bankruptcy court before the Texas bankruptcy court will forgive (discharge) your eligible debt. Using official bankruptcy forms, you’ll include details about your income, expenses, debts, assets, and financial transactions.

You can download the forms for free from the U.S. Courts form page. Once complete, you’ll file your paperwork in the Texas bankruptcy court. You’ll pay a filing fee or file a request for a fee waiver, as well as a certificate showing that you completed the credit counseling course (more information below).

Texas Bankruptcy Information

All bankruptcy cases fall under federal law, but some information unique to Texas will affect the bankruptcy paperwork you file.

Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information

You can visit the U.S. Trustee’s website for these two types of Texas-specific information: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.

  • Means test data. Before you can qualify to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to ensure that your income can pass the “means test.” If it’s less than the median income for Texas, you automatically pass. If your family income is more than the median, you might pass the test after deducting certain set expenses. You can access the income charts and expense figures on the U.S. Trustee’s website (select “Means Testing Information”). If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you won’t have to take the means test, but a similar calculation will determine your monthly payment.
  • Credit counseling providers. Before you file your bankruptcy case, you must complete a session with a credit counseling service. After you file your case, but before the court issues your discharge, you must take a debt management course. You’ll find a list of the approved providers on the U.S. Trustee’s website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to the Texas judicial districts.

Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions

Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t mean that you’ll lose all your property. But you might not be able to protect (exempt) all of it either.

  • Exempt property. You’ll be able to keep all assets on the list of Texas exemptions or the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. Because you’re a Texas resident, you get to choose which of the two lists to apply in your case. Unfortunately, you can’t pick and choose individual exemptions from both lists.
  • Nonexempt property. If your property doesn’t fit within your chosen exemption list, the Chapter 7 trustee can sell it to benefit your creditors. People who file a Chapter 13 case can keep nonexempt property because its value will be included in the Chapter 13 repayment plan. In other words, you’ll pay for the nonexempt portion in your monthly plan payments.
  • Jointly-owned property. Spouses filing a joint bankruptcy in Texas can double the exemption amount if they both own the property. If only one spouse owns the property, you can’t double the exemption amount.

To review the Texas exemption scheme, visit Texas Bankruptcy Exemptions.

Texas Bankruptcy Court Locations and Websites

Texas has four federal judicial districts, and each has its own bankruptcy website. On each district bankruptcy website, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (look for links to each site below). Select the following from each site’s nav bar:

  • Eastern District of Texas - “Filing Without an Attorney”
  • Northern District of Texas - “Filing Resources,” then “Useful Information … (Pro Se)”
  • Southern District of Texas - “Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney” (in the right column under “Sections”)
  • Western District of Texas – “Filing Without an Attorney”

Also, Texas is a large state, and each district has multiple divisions (19 in all—more than any other state). Determining where to file isn’t difficult, however. You’ll go to the Federal Court Locator page, select “Bankruptcy” in the drop-down box, then enter your location. Or you can call any of the offices below and ask a court clerk for assistance.

Eastern District of Texas

Northern District of Texas

Southern District of Texas

Western District of Texas

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office

660 North Central Expressway

Suite 300B
Plano, Texas 75074
(972) 509-1240

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office
Earle Cabell Federal Building
1100 Commerce Street

Room 1254
Dallas, Texas 75242-1496
(214) 753-2000

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office
U.S. Courthouse
515 Rusk Avenue
Houston, Texas 77002
(713) 250-5500

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Clerk’s Office
Hipolito F. Garcia Federal Building
615 East Houston Street Room 597
San Antonio, Texas 78205
(210) 472-6720

This overview provides information about some of the resources needed when preparing a bankruptcy filing. You should know that filing for bankruptcy without an attorney can be challenging, and each filer must understand the law and the impact it will have on the filer’s bankruptcy case. A do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D. can help.

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