Start My Answer

How to File Chapter 13 Without an Attorney

Patrick Austin, J.D. | December 01, 2023

Patrick Austin
Attorney from George Mason
Patrick Austin, JD

Patrick Austin is a licensed attorney with a background in data privacy and information security law. Patrick received his law degree at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School, where he served as the Editor-in-Chief for the National Security Law Journal.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

You can file Chapter 13 bankruptcy without the help of an attorney.

Summary: There is no law or regulation requiring you to retain the services of an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. This means you have the option to file bankruptcy without a lawyer. This article provides insights and guidance on how to file Chapter 13 without an attorney. Remember, you got this.

If you are struggling with a proverbial mountain of debt and are falling behind on monthly payments to the point where you are being hounded by creditors and/or debt collectors, it may make sense to consider filing for bankruptcy (depending on your unique circumstances).

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may be asking yourself, “do I need to hire a lawyer?” The answer is no. You do not need to hire an attorney to file for bankruptcy. You have the option to represent yourself and file pro se. The article offers insights and guidance on how to file Chapter 13 without an attorney.

Consider debt settlement before filing for bankruptcy.

Settle with SoloSettle

Make an Offer

There are two types of bankruptcy

When it comes to filing for bankruptcy, individuals typically decide between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

For context, Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the “Coke Classic” of bankruptcy. It entails turning over your assets to a trustee who will sell (also known as liquidate) your assets and non-exempt properties in an effort to reimburse your creditors. In exchange, you get a clean financial slate with a majority of your debt written off.

However, not everyone wants to give up all of their assets. In addition, only certain individuals who meet a “means” test qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The means test calculation for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a determining factor for whether your income is sufficiently low enough to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. In other words, failing the means test means you are ineligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

This where Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be more appealing.

How does Chapter 13 bankruptcy work?

A good way to think of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an opportunity to audit and reorganize your finances. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the bankruptcy option for individuals who make too much money to pass the Chapter 7 bankruptcy means test.

One of the most apparent distinctions between Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that your debt does not get wiped away in Chapter 13 proceedings. Instead, you negotiate a repayment plan for all, or a portion, of your debt. In most instances, creditors (and the judge overseeing the Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings) will accept a negotiated repayment plan that spans between three and five years.

Another notable distinction between Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy is that you get to retain your assets in Chapter 13. This is appealing since it avoids the embarrassment and inconvenience associated with having your vehicle repossessed and your home foreclosed upon.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, let’s discuss how to actually file for it.

Wondering if you're eligible for bankruptcy? Check here.

How to file for chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney

Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney can be complicated, and it is important to understand all the steps and filing requirements necessary to complete the process.

There are a number of critically-important steps you need to take before even filling out a bankruptcy form. For example, you need to analyze your debt and income and take a mandatory bankruptcy pre-filing course. Once you’ve checked off these action items, you can move forward with the following steps to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

  1. File a formal petition for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The petition must include the rationale for filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a list of all your assets and liabilities, a statement of financial affairs, copies of tax returns, and payment for the filing fee.
  2. Appoint a trustee who will manage your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
  3. Have the court enter a “stay of debt collection” prohibiting creditors from seeking to collect on your debts once the creditor is notified of the stay order.
  4. File a proposed repayment plan taking into account priority claims (e.g., delinquent taxes), secured claims (e.g., student loan debt), and unsecured claims (e.g., credit card debt).
  5. Attend your confirmation hearing. During the hearing, the bankruptcy court will take time to respond to any objections raised by your creditors, who will meet at some point between 21 and 50 days after you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once any objections are resolved, the court will typically approve a final repayment plan.
  6. Commence making payments within 30 days of filing for bankruptcy.
  7. If you adhere to the approved repayment plan, a percentage of your debts will be discharged.

These steps can help you get started with the filing process for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The United States Courts provide bankruptcy forms to make the process even easier.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can help discharge a judgment in a debt collection lawsuit

If a creditor files a debt collection lawsuit against you and secures a favorable judgment, it will mean they have the legal authority to garnish your wages, place a lien (or liens) on your property (or properties), or even access assets in your bank accounts. However, if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it can help stop the enforcement of the creditor’s judgment, even only temporarily.

As mentioned earlier, if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the judge overseeing your case will typically issue a stay order. Once the stay order goes into effect, you will be legally protected, automatically, from your creditors. Your debt will remain in a holding pattern, which means a credit is legally prohibited from contacting you, sending any threatening letters, and/or filing a debt collection lawsuit. If there is a pending debt collection lawsuit, that legal action will be suspended. If any of your creditors violate the automatic stay order, you have the option to file contempt against them and make them pay for the fine and damages.

Use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit

If you’re struggling with debt, chances are you don’t have extra money laying around to hire an attorney to represent you in a debt collection lawsuit. Luckily, SoloSuit can help you respond to a debt case without the help of a lawyer and increase your chances of winning by 7x.

Watch this video to learn more:

Key Takeaways

There is no law or regulation requiring you to retain the services of an attorney when filing for bankruptcy, which means you can file bankruptcy without the help of a lawyer. Here are some key takeaways from our discussion on how to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy without a lawyer:

  • Filing for bankruptcy is a major life decision that warrants significant research and due diligence to properly weigh the pros and cons of moving forward, especially if you decide to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy without an attorney.
  • The process of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy entails multiple steps, significant amounts of paperwork, and strict filing deadlines. This means proper preparation is essential in order to successfully reach the finish line.
  • There are different types of bankruptcy filings to consider. The two most common types of bankruptcy filings utilized by consumers include Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy is effectively a form of financial reorganization. When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are able to retain your assets (e.g., your home, automobile, etc.) in exchange for making monthly payments towards paying off your debt balance within 60 months (to avoid paying penalties, interests, and fees).
  • SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt lawsuit without a lawyer.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to fight debt collectors.

You can use SoloSuit to respond to a debt lawsuit, to send letters to collectors, and even to settle a debt.

SoloSuit's Answer service is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your Answer. Upon completion, we'll have an attorney review your document and we'll file it for you.

>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit. (We can help you in all 50 states.)

How to answer a summons for debt collection in your state

Here's a list of guides for other states.

All 50 states.

Guides on how to beat every debt collector

Being sued by a different debt collector? Were making guides on how to beat each one.

We have answers

Join our community of over 40,000 people.

You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now are are just look for support, we're here for you.

Get Started

Win against credit card companies

Is your credit card company suing you? Learn how you can beat each one.

Going to Court for Credit Card Debt — Key Tips

How to Negotiate Credit Card Debts

How to Settle a Credit Card Debt Lawsuit — Ultimate Guide

Get answers to these FAQs

Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.

Why do debt collectors block their phone numbers?

How long do debt collectors take to respond to debt validation letters?

What are the biggest debt collector companies in the US?

Is Zombie Debt Still a Problem in 2019?

SoloSuit FAQ

If a car is repossessed, do I still owe the debt?

Is Portfolio Recovery Associates Legit?

Is There a Judgment Against Me Without my Knowledge?

Should I File Bankruptcy Before or After a Judgment?

What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills — What Do I Do?

What Happens If Someone Sues You and You Have No Money?

What Happens If You Never Answer Debt Collectors?

What Happens When a Debt Is Sold to a Collection Agency

What is a Stipulated Judgment?

What is the Deadline for a Defendants Answer to Avoid a Default Judgment?

Can a Judgement Creditor Take my Car?

Can I Settle a Debt After Being Served?

Can I Stop Wage Garnishment?

Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Do I Need a Debt Collection Defense Attorney?

Do I Need a Payday Loans Lawyer?

Do student loans go away after 7 years? — Student Loan Debt Guide

Am I Responsible for My Spouses Medical Debt?

Should I Marry Someone With Debt?

Can a Debt Collector Leave a Voicemail?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

What Happens If a Defendant Does Not Pay a Judgment?

How Does Debt Assignment Work?

Can You Serve Someone with a Collections Lawsuit at Their Work?

What Is a Warrant in Debt?

How Many Times Can a Judgment be Renewed in Oklahoma?

Can an Eviction Be Reversed?

Does Debt Consolidation Have Risks?

What Happens If You Avoid Getting Served Court Papers?

Does Student Debt Die With You?

Can Debt Collectors Call You at Work in Texas?

How Much Do You Have to Be in Debt to File for Chapter 7?

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Debt in Washington?

How Long Does a Judgment Last?

Can Private Disability Payments Be Garnished?

Can Debt Collectors Call From Local Numbers?

Does the Fair Credit Reporting Act Work in Florida?

The Truth: Should You Never Pay a Debt Collection Agency?

Should You Communicate with a Debt Collector in Writing or by Telephone?

Do I Need a Debt Negotiator?

What Happens After a Motion for Default Is Filed?

Can a Process Server Leave a Summons Taped to My Door?

Learn More With These Additional Resources:

Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.

How to Make a Debt Validation Letter - The Ultimate Guide

How to Make a Motion to Compel Arbitration Without an Attorney

How to Stop Wage Garnishment — Everything You Need to Know

How to File an FDCPA Complaint Against Your Debt Collector (Ultimate Guide)

Defending Yourself in Court Against a Debt Collector

Tips on you can to file an FDCPA lawsuit against a debt collection agency

Advice on how to answer a summons for debt collection.

Effective strategies for how to get back on track after a debt lawsuit

New Hampshire Statute of Limitations on Debt

Sample Cease and Desist Letter Against Debt Collectors

The Ultimate Guide to Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit in Utah

West Virginia Statute of Limitations on Debt

What debt collectors cannot do — FDCPA explained

Defending Yourself in Court Against Debt Collector

How to Liquidate Debt

Arkansas Statute of Limitations on Debt

Youre Drowning in Debt — Heres How to Swim

Help! Im Being Sued by My Debt Collector

How to Make a Motion to Vacate Judgment

How to Answer Summons for Debt Collection in Vermont

North Dakota Statute of Limitations on Debt

ClearPoint Debt Management Review

Indiana Statute of Limitations on Debt

Oregon Eviction Laws - What They Say

CuraDebt Debt Settlement Review

How to Write a Re-Aging Debt Letter

How to Appear in Court by Phone

How to Use the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

Debt Consolidation in Eugene, Oregon

Summoned to Court for Medical Bills? What to Do Next

How to Make a Debt Settlement Agreement

Received a 3-Day Eviction Notice? Heres What to Do

How to Answer a Lawsuit for Debt Collection

Tips for Leaving the Country With Unpaid Credit Card Debt

Kansas Statute of Limitations on Debt Collection

How to File in Small Claims Court in Iowa

How to File a Civil Answer in Kings County Supreme Court

Roseland Associates Debt Consolidation Review

How to Stop a Garnishment

Debt Eraser Review

Do Debt Collectors Ever Give Up?

Can They Garnish Your Wages for Credit Card Debt?

How Often Do Credit Card Companies Sue for Non-Payment?

How Long Does a Judgement Last?

​​How Long Before a Creditor Can Garnish Wages?

How to Beat a Bill Collector in Court

Not sued yet?

Use our Debt Validation Letter.

Out Debt Validation Letter is the best way to respond to a collection letter. Many debt collectors will simply give up after receiving it.

Let's Do It

It only takes 15 minutes.

And 50% of our customers' cases have been dismissed in the past.

"Finding yourself on the wrong side of the law unexpectedly is kinda scary. I started researching on YouTube and found SoloSuit's channel. The videos were so helpful, easy to understand and encouraging. When I reached out to SoloSuit they were on it. Very professional, impeccably prompt. Thanks for the service!" - Heather

Get Started