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How Do You File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know

How Do You File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma: What You Need to Know

So you’re considering filing for bankruptcy in Oklahoma? You’re definitely not alone. Lots of folks find themselves in financial hot water from time to time. The good news is that Oklahoma bankruptcy laws are designed to give people like you a fresh start. The process definitely isn’t easy, but once it’s done, you’re going to feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders.

To start, determine what chapter of bankruptcy is right for your situation and gather all your financial paperwork. Then comes the long list of forms, court hearings, credit counseling, and schedules. It can get overwhelming pretty quickly. However — with some determination and perseverance, you could complete the bankruptcy process in Oklahoma. The freedom of a clean slate makes it all worthwhile. Now let’s dig in and go over everything you need to know about how to file for bankruptcy in the Sooner State.

Where to File For Bankruptcy

First — where do you go to file for bankruptcy?

Federal Court

You’re going to need to file for bankruptcy in a federal bankruptcy court. These are special courts that only handle bankruptcy cases. The location depends on where you live and type of bankruptcy you’re filing for.

For most individuals in Oklahoma, you’re going to file with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma or the Western District of Oklahoma. It depends on to the county you reside in.

Your District

  • Eastern District: If you live in one of these 26 counties – Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole, Sequoyah, or Wagoner.
  • Western District: For the remaining 51 counties in Oklahoma, including Oklahoma County and Tulsa County.

Filing Process

Once you determine the correct court, you’re going to need to complete a bankruptcy petition, forms for financial information, pay the filing fee, and submit everything in person or by mail.

The court then notifies your creditors that you’ve filed. An automatic stay will go into effect, temporarily preventing creditors from trying to collect debts from you.

Legal Advice

Bankruptcy laws are complex, so it’s wise to have an experienced bankruptcy lawyer review your situation. They can ensure you qualify, suggest the best type of bankruptcy for your circumstances, and properly prepare all the documentation. This provides the best chance at a successful discharge of your eligible debts and a fresh financial start.

Do You Qualify to File for Bankruptcy in Oklahoma?​

Filing for bankruptcy is a big decision with long-lasting consequences. But for many Oklahomans struggling with overwhelming debt, it can provide much-needed relief and a fresh start. So how do you know if you qualify?

Means Test

The first hurdle is passing the means test. This calculates your household income against the median income for a similar household size in Oklahoma. If your income is below the median, you automatically qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If it’s above the median, don’t lose hope just yet. You may still be eligible if you can prove your disposable income after allowed expenses is too low to reasonably repay your debts. An experienced bankruptcy attorney could help with this process.

Debt Types

Not all debt is treated equally in bankruptcy court. Priority debts such as child support, alimony, and certain tax obligations must be paid in full. Secured debts like mortgages and auto loans are partially protected if you want to keep the collateral property.

It’s the non-priority unsecured debts – credit cards, medical bills, personal loans – where bankruptcy provides the biggest relief by potentially discharging those obligations completely or through a repayment plan.

Credit Counseling

Before filing, you must complete an approved credit counseling course within 180 days. This ensures you understand bankruptcy’s pros and cons and all alternatives have been considered.

The course provider will issue a certificate that must be included with your bankruptcy petition when filed in Oklahoma’s federal court system.

Stay Protection

One of bankruptcy’s most powerful advantages is the automatic stay. The moment your case is filed, this legal injunction stops most debt collection efforts like garnishments, foreclosures, and harassment from creditors.

Just be aware the stay is temporary – your debts must eventually be resolved with discharge or a repayment plan if you want a financial fresh start.

Choosing Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Choosing Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy in Oklahoma, you’re going to need to choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both have their pros and cons, so let’s explore the differences.

Chapter 7: Fresh Start

Chapter 7 is known as “liquidation” bankruptcy. It allows you to wipe out most of your unsecured debts, like credit cards and medical bills. The catch? You may have to surrender some assets to pay creditors.

  • Qualifying is based on your income level. If you make too much, you may not be eligible.

  • The process moves quickly, often taking just 4-6 months to complete.

  • You get to keep “exempt” assets like your car, home, and your retirement accounts.

It’s a great option if you’re drowning in debt with almost no income.

Chapter 13: Repayment Plan

Rather than liquidating assets, Chapter 13 reorganizes your debts into a 3-5 year repayment plan. Make affordable monthly payments to a trustee who distributes the funds to creditors.

  • Your income must be high enough to fund the repayment plan.

  • You can keep all assets, even non-exempt ones.

  • Debts discharged at the end include mortgage arrears, car loans, and some taxes.

It takes longer but may be preferable if you want to hang onto property and catch up on secured debts.

The Choice

The right bankruptcy chapter depends on your unique financial situation. Chapter 7 provides a clean slate but at the cost of non-exempt assets. Chapter 13 restructures debts over time while allowing you to retain your property.

Consider income, assets, and your goals carefully. An experienced Oklahoma bankruptcy attorney can evaluate your bankruptcy case and guide you towards the best solution.

Gathering The Required Documents to File For Bankruptcy

So what are you going to need to file bankruptcy?

Collect Personal Identification Documents

  • First, gather your personal identification documents. You’re going to need a government-issued photo ID like a driver’s license or passport.

  • Collect your Social Security card or Taxpayer Identification Number as well.

Gather Proof of Income

Next up is proof of your current income and money coming in. This includes:

  • Recent pay stubs or earnings statements from employers

  • Proof of any other income sources like child support, alimony, etc.

  • Tax returns for the last two years

List Out Your Monthly Expenses

You’ll need to provide a detailed list of your current monthly living expenses. This helps the bankruptcy court understand your financial situation. Be sure to include:

  • Rent/mortgage payments

  • Utilities like electricity, gas, water, etc.

  • Food and grocery costs

  • Transportation expenses like car payments, insurance, gas

  • Medical bills or ongoing treatment costs

  • Childcare expenses

  • Any other significant monthly obligations

Compile Your Debt Documentation

Of course, you’re going to need documentation of outstanding debts. Gather statements and records showing:

  • Credit card balances and minimum payments

  • Mortgage or loan balances

  • Outstanding medical bills

  • Unpaid utilities or service bills

  • Any debt owed to the IRS or other government entities

List Your Assets and Property

Bankruptcy courts need a full picture of your assets too. Make a list of everything you own, including:

  • Real estate like your home

  • Vehicles like cars, motorcycles, RVs

  • Bank accounts and investments

  • Valuables like jewelry, antiques, collectibles

  • Any other significant assets or property

With these documents prepared, you’re ready to complete the bankruptcy filing process accurately and efficiently. Stay organized – it makes the road ahead much smoother.

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