Quality Representation.

Attention You Deserve.

Serving Clients In

Greater Orlando

And Surrounding Areas

Filing Bankruptcy in Florida: Process, Rules & Requirements

Bankruptcy is an effective debt relief option for people dealing with substantial indebtedness. Although this procedure provides debtors with a fresh financial start, it is not uncommon for people not to know how to file for bankruptcy in Florida. 

Large debt can be overwhelming, especially when you can no longer repay it. If you find yourself in this situation, bankruptcy may be a suitable remedy for you. Since this procedure offers several benefits to debtors, in the following sections, you will find a detailed overview of the steps involved when filing for bankruptcy in Florida.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the steps involved in filing bankruptcy in Florida:

  1. Complete Credit Counseling
  2. Choose your type of bankruptcy
  3. Complete your forms and file your petition
  4. Attend Meeting of Creditors
  5. Work on your bankruptcy case
  6. Complete Debtors Education and receive a discharge 

If you have questions about your situation, a bankruptcy attorney near you may be able to provide you with more pertinent information. 

1. Complete Credit Counseling

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy in Florida, the first step you need to take is completing credit counseling. A credit counseling class aims to help debtors identify the options available to deal with their debts. 

To do this, you and a counselor will evaluate your expenses, debts, income, and any financial information that may be relevant to your situation. In some cases, credit counseling may help debtors to discover other alternatives to handle their indebtedness. 

However, if you intend to file for bankruptcy in Orlando or nearby, you must ensure that you take credit counseling from an agency approved by the Middle District of Florida. 

Additionally, the Bankruptcy Court requires you to take credit counseling within 180 days before filing your case. Credit counseling is a mandatory pre-filing requirement. As a result, failing to complete it can lead to a dismissal of your case. 

Under exceptional circumstances, the Court may allow you to complete this course after filing your case. A bankruptcy lawyer in Florida can help you determine if you qualify for this extension. 

2. Choose Which Type of Bankruptcy You’re Filing

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, one of the challenges of pro se cases (filing without an attorney) is choosing the right type of bankruptcy for your situation. This is because each bankruptcy chapter comes with its own requirements, challenges, and benefits. 

Florida bankruptcy is an incredible legal tool available for helping honest debtors by discharging most of their debts. However, how your indebtedness is approached depends on the type of chapter you file.

Filing Bankruptcy Chapter 7 or 13

For instance, individuals with disposable income and whose debts do not surpass certain thresholds may be eligible for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Florida. With this chapter, debtors have a commitment to repay their debts over 3 to 5 years. 

Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debtors avoid liquidation and have the opportunity to discharge certain debts that are not eligible under a Chapter 7. On the other hand, a Chapter 7 in Florida is suitable for debtors whose monthly income is lower than Florida’s median income or who passed the means test.   

There is no debt limit for Chapter 7. However, this type of bankruptcy focuses on the liquidation of property. In other words, if your assets are not protected by Florida bankruptcy exemptions, your trustee may be able to sell them and distribute the proceeds to your creditors. 

Choosing the most suitable bankruptcy chapter for you depends on numerous factors. However, if you wish to obtain a discharge, you must ensure that you are able to complete your case. 

3. Complete Your Forms and File Your Petition for Bankruptcy

The third step in filing for bankruptcy in Florida is to complete your forms and file your petition to the Bankruptcy Court. Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 share many of the same forms. However, each chapter also has specific documents that you must complete. 

These bankruptcy forms are the means by which you present your case to the Bankruptcy Court. As a result, you must ensure that your information is accurate and thorough. Lying, misrepresenting, or withholding information about your income or assets can lead to bankruptcy fraud, which is considered a criminal offense. 

Some of the information that you need to provide in your forms includes, but is not limited to:

  • Contact information
  • List of all your creditors
  • Nature and amount of your debts
  • Financial statements
  • List of your property and assets
  • Description of monthly income and expenses

Once you have completed your forms, you must file them with the Bankruptcy Court. If you are filing without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer, your petition must be filed in person or by mail. If you are in the Middle District of Florida, you are required to file your petition in the appropriate Bankruptcy Division, which will be based on your place of residence.

If you are filing Chapter 13, you must file your repayment plan with your bankruptcy petition or within fourteen days after filing your case. 

Local rules of the Middle District of Florida Bankruptcy Court

If you do not have the help of a bankruptcy attorney, you must also be aware of some court rules and local procedures you must follow in the Middle District of Florida. Some examples of these local rules include, but are not limited to:

  • Filing your case in the appropriate Bankruptcy Court Division. 
  • Paying filing fees in cash, money order, or certified check. 
  • Printing your forms on one side of the paper. 
  • Avoiding staples or punch holes in your documents. 
  • Pro filers cannot file electronically. 
  • Presenting a valid ID with your petition. 
  • Avoid entering the Courthouse with electronic devices. 
  • Following the style guide of the Middle District when filing motions. 

4. Attend Meeting of Creditors

After successfully filing the bankruptcy petition, the Bankruptcy Code requires debtors to attend a meeting of creditors. This meeting is conducted by the trustee, who will review your petition and ask you some questions about your debts and financial situation. 

Your answers help the trustee understand your situation and administer your case. Additionally, you are required to answer these questions under penalty of perjury. As a result, if you provide false information, your case could be dismissed, and you may face severe consequences. 

This meeting is called a meeting of creditors because your creditors are notified, and they may attend this hearing. However, the meeting is not mandatory for them. Even if they do not attend, they are not waiving their rights. In other words, if applicable to your case, absent creditors still have the right to receive some proceedings from the bankruptcy. 

5. Work on Your Bankruptcy Case

As mentioned above, how your debt is treated depends on the type (chapter) of bankruptcy you file in Florida. After the meeting of creditors, the trustee starts the administration of your bankruptcy case. 

If you filed Chapter 13, you would make bi-weekly or monthly payments over 3 to 5 years. In this case, your trustee will distribute your payments among your creditors. When your repayment plan is completed, you will have repaid most or some of your debts, and the remaining balance for eligible debts will be discharged. 

Chapter 7, on the other hand, does not take as much time as Chapter 13. If some of your assets were not protected by Florida exemptions, the trustee may sell that property and use the proceeds to repay some of your debts. 

It is important to note that not all Chapter 7 cases result in liquidating the debtor’s property. If you want to learn more about how bankruptcy can help you handle your debts, contact Orlando bankruptcy attorney Zarina Hernandez. 

6. Complete Debtors Education & Receive a Discharge

Bankruptcy laws aim to provide a clean slate to the honest debtor. This fresh financial start is provided by the bankruptcy discharge, which is granted once the case is over. However, you must complete a debtor education course before receiving your discharge. 

A debtor education course is a pre-discharge requirement that you must take whether you filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Like credit counseling, debtors must complete their debtor education course with an agency approved by the Middle District of Florida. 

The goal of this course is to provide individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to take control of their financial situation after their bankruptcy case is over. If you do not file your certification, your case may be closed without a discharge. This means that your remaining balance will not be wiped out, and your creditors can continue with their debt collection actions. 

Once you complete the bankruptcy process and your debtors education course, you will receive your discharge and, as long as they are eligible, your remaining debts will be forgiven. 

Looking to File Bankruptcy in Florida? Speak to a Our Attorney

Bankruptcy is a legal process that offers numerous benefits to people dealing with large debt. However, filing for bankruptcy in Florida can be complex if you are unfamiliar with the law, forms, and court rules. What you do not know about bankruptcy can work against you and your case. 

At Z. Hernandez Law, we understand that you are going through difficult times. For many debtors, adding legal fees to their expenses may add an extra layer of stress to their financial situation. However, an experienced bankruptcy attorney can ensure that your process goes smoothly. 

If you are considering filing bankruptcy in the Orlando Division, contact us to schedule a consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer. We represent both English and Spanish-speaking clients. 

Legal information reviewed by:
Zarina Hernandez | Founder & Attorney

Serving Greater


Area and...

Altamonte Springs









St. Cloud

Lake Mary



Orange City

Osceola County

Seminole County

Cocoa Beach