It's becoming more and more common these days than it used to be for people to file for bankruptcy. Lower pay, lay-offs and mounting debt are forcing great numbers of Virginia Beach area individuals and couples to consider bankruptcy to get out from under a crushing debt burden. If you find yourself unable to pay your debts because you have very few assets, or none at all that could make it possible for you to pay your creditors, you might want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you are qualified, this action can effectively get all, or most of your debts discharged without having to pay anything. This could include credit card debt, personal loans, and medical bills and other unsecured consumer debt.

In order for you to file Chapter 7, you have to undertake a means test. This test measures how much income you take in and compares it to your expenses, giving an indication of your ability to make regular payments or not. It also compares your income to the income of other families of the same size in Virginia. "Passing" this test means you fall below the median income and are eligible to file Chapter 7. But even if you come out above the median income, it is possible you can still qualify for Chapter 7. Calculating the means test can be complex, involving many different steps as well as having a thorough understanding of the rules. You should consult a bankruptcy attorney in Virginia Beach who has the knowledge and skill to guide you through the process.


Since 2005, the rules for filing Chapter 7 have changed, and there are more restrictions now on who will qualify. Even so, a large majority of people still do qualify. The means test is actually attempting to determine if you are able to make minimal payments to your creditors. If so, you are eligible to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which means your debts are reorganized and paid, rather than dismissed. A plan will be formulated that enables you to pay your debts on a determined schedule over a period of time. If you have enough income available, you may not qualify for Chapter 7, leaving Chapter 13 as an option for you.

When doing the means test, you will want to think about the following areas and whether you need to budget for them:

  • Child care, after-school care and babysitting;
  • Summer camp – can possibly quality as child care;
  • Tutoring – if your children are struggling in school;
  • Special care for physically or mentally challenged children;
  • Health and medical expenses, including emergency care, prescriptions;
  • Vision care, glasses and contacts for adults and children. Keep in mind that these expenses are usually higher for children due to loss and breakage;
  • Dental care, including braces;
  • Charity donations, such as to your church and any other cause you support;
  • Elder care – you may be helping parents or grandparents, even if they don't live with you.

There may be other areas that could reduce your disposable income as well, which can make the difference in your eligibility to file Chapter 7. Being able to show where you need to allocate your money can help in getting your bankruptcy petition accepted by the court.

Getting out from under impossible debt is a worthy goal, especially if it's done in order to get a new start and become a financially stable and successful member of your community. At the David McCormick Law Group, we can help you through the complexities of a means test and sort out complicated financial issues. As bankruptcy lawyers, we can help you get back on your feet, with a fresh start. Take advantage of the federal bankruptcy laws. We can help, including all issues related to the means test and qualifying for filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Contact us today.

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