Local Bankruptcy Laws in FL
Bankruptcy is an available process to seek financial and legal relief set out by the United States Bankruptcy Code at the federal level. While local bankruptcy laws in Florida primarily fall under the jurisdiction of the federal bankruptcy courts, there are some specific provisions and exemptions that are unique to Florida.
If you are considering bankruptcy in the Sunshine State, your first step should be to seek help from a Florida bankruptcy attorney who can navigate the process for you. You want legal representation from someone who has experience handling bankruptcy cases in your area.
Local Provisions Your Lawyer Will Consider
Understanding the local bankruptcy laws in Florida is crucial if you are considering filing for bankruptcy in the state. Fortunately, an experienced attorney will know the local procedures, exemptions, and court rules that apply to your case. These might include the following, among others.
Florida’s bankruptcy exemptions
One important aspect of Florida’s bankruptcy laws is the availability of specific exemptions that protect certain assets from being liquidated. Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires the liquidation of certain assets, and each state has its own rules about what exemptions you can use. Some states allow you to use the federal exemptions, but Florida is not one of them. Instead, you must apply Florida’s state exemptions to your case.
The good news is that Florida has a highly generous homestead exemption. If you have owned your property for over 1,215 days, the law allows you to exempt unlimited equity in your house if the property meets certain requirements.
Other exemptions include:
- Medical savings accounts, certain education savings, and hurricane savings accounts
- Up to $1000 of personal property
- $1000 in vehicle equity
- Certain retirement savings accounts
- Certain public benefits
- Reasonable child or spousal support
- Up to $4000 in wildcard exemptions toward your personal property if you do not use the homestead exemption
You must have lived in Florida for at least 730 days to utilize these exemptions.
The means test is a requirement for anyone filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the U.S. It assesses your income and expenses to determine your eligibility for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test compares your income to the median income in your particular state for your household size, as reported by the Department of Justice.
For example, as of May 2023, the DOJ reports the median income in Florida as:
- 1 earner = $60,429
- 2 people = $74,131
- 3 people = $83,396
- 4 people = $100,476
Your attorney can determine whether your household income is lower than the median, which qualifies you for Chapter 7.
Local Bankruptcy Courts
Florida has three bankruptcy courts, which are the Middle District of Florida, the Northern District of Florida, and the Southern District of Florida. Each district has its own specific rules and procedures, and you want an attorney who understands the rules applicable to your district court.
Learn How a Florida Bankruptcy Attorney Can Help
It is essential to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who is knowledgeable about both federal and local bankruptcy laws in Florida. The law firm of Brian McMahon can help you through this process. Contact us for a consultation today.