How to File Bankruptcy in Illinois

Learn how to find some of the information you'll need in an Illinois bankruptcy.

If your paycheck is stretched to the breaking point each month, filing for bankruptcy in Illinois can be the relief you need. The first step is understanding the differences between filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

When you’ve decided which chapter will benefit you the most, this article will help you gather some of the information you’ll need, like the official bankruptcy forms, Illinois means test figures, credit counseling providers, and your local bankruptcy court. Also, you’ll find an explanation about protecting property in an Illinois bankruptcy.

Official Bankruptcy Forms

You’ll have to file a lot of information about your financial situation with the bankruptcy court before your debts can be wiped out (discharged). On the official bankruptcy forms, you’ll describe your property, credit accounts, income, expenses, and financial transactions.

The forms are free, and you can access them on the U.S. Courts form page. When completed, you’ll file your paperwork in the Illinois bankruptcy court. You’ll include a filing fee or a request for a fee waiver and proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (additional information below).

Illinois Bankruptcy Information

All bankruptcy cases—including Illinois bankruptcy matters—are governed by federal law. Even so, some aspects of Illinois law and procedure play a part, too.

Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information

You can find two types of Illinois-specific information on the website of the U.S. Trustee: means testing figures and required education providers.

  • Means test information. Before filing a case under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll need to make sure your income qualifies under the “means test.” A family income lower than the median income for Illinois passes. Otherwise, you still might pass the test after deducting certain standard expenses. The income charts and expense figures can be found in the “Means Testing Information” section. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, the means test will not apply, but a similar calculation will help you set your monthly payment.
  • Credit counseling providers. If you’re like most filers, you’ll have to finish a credit counseling course before filing for bankruptcy. After you file, but before you receive a discharge, you’ll take a debt management course. You’ll find the approved providers under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to the entries for each Illinois district.

Illinois Bankruptcy Exemptions

Filing for bankruptcy won’t leave you destitute. But, it may not mean that you can exempt (protect) all of your property, either.

  • Exempt property. You can keep any asset that appears on the Illinois exemption list or the list of federal nonbankruptcy exemptions.
  • Nonexempt property. If your property isn’t on the exemption list, the Chapter 7 trustee appointed to your case can sell it. The funds will go to your creditors. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you won’t have to give up any nonexempt property. However, you must pay for the nonexempt portion through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
  • Joint property. Spouses who file a joint bankruptcy case in Illinois can double the exemption amount as long as both own the property. If only one spouse has an ownership interest, the exemption cannot be doubled.

You can learn more about protecting your property in an Illinois bankruptcy at Illinois Bankruptcy Exemptions.

Illinois Bankruptcy Court Locations and Websites

The state of Illinois has three federal judicial districts—each with its own bankruptcy court. On the bankruptcy court websites, you’ll find the court’s local rules and instructions for filing your paperwork (click on “Filing Without an Attorney”).

Each district also has multiple divisions. To learn where to file your case, contact one of the offices listed below, or go to the Federal Court Locator page, choose “Bankruptcy” in the drop-down box, then enter your location.

Northern District of Illinois

Central District of Illinois

Southern District of Illinois

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
327 South Church Street
Rockford, Illinois 61101
(815) 987-4350

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
219 S. Dearborn
Chicago, Illinois 60604
(312) 408-5000

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
100 N.E. Monroe Street, Room 216
Peoria Illinois 61602
(309) 671-7035

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
600 E. Monroe Street, Room 226
Springfield Illinois 62701
(217) 492-4551

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
201 South Vine Street, Room 203
Urbana, Illinois 61802
(217) 974-7330

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Melvin Price Federal Courthouse
750 Missouri Ave
East St. Louis, Illinois 62201
(618) 482-9400

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Federal Courthouse
301 West Main Street
Benton, Illinois 62812
(618) 435-2200

Filing for bankruptcy is complicated, especially without an attorney. You’ll be responsible for understanding both bankruptcy law and procedure, and an error could be costly. This overview provides some information you’ll need. It isn’t intended to address all of the issues you might face. You’ll find a more comprehensive overview in a book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.

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