Bankruptcy is a creature of federal law, so the process to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is nearly identical in every state, including Georgia. However, Georgia law still plays a major role, especially in setting property exemptions, which determine what property you get to keep (if you file for Chapter 7) and how much you have to repay your creditors (if you file for Chapter 13). There are also important resources available to you by state.
Credit Counseling in Georgia
Before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Georgia, you will have to complete mandatory credit counseling with an agency that’s been approved by the United States Trustee’s Office. Here’s a list of Georgia agencies that have been approved to provide this counseling.
Where to File for Bankruptcy in Georgia
Georgia has three bankruptcy court districts. You can find information on forms, local rules, and more at each district’s website:
- The Northern District (with courthouses in Atlanta, Rome, Newnan, and Gainesville)
- The Middle District (with courthouses in Macon and Columbus)
- The Southern District (with courthouses in Augusta, Brunswick, Dublin, Savannah, Statesboro, and Waycross)
Georgia Property Exemptions
Like every other state, Georgia has its own set of property exemptions. (To learn more about how property exemptions work generally and which exemptions you may use, see Bankruptcy Exemptions: What Do I Keep When I File for Bankruptcy?)
Some states allow bankruptcy filers to choose between the state’s list of exemptions and a federal list, but Georgia isn’t one of them.
In Georgia, homeowners may exempt up to $10,000 worth of equity in a home. Bankruptcy filers who don’t have a home (or don’t have any equity to protect) may apply up to $5,000 of this amount to any other property they wish to exempt. Georgia filers may also exempt up to $3,500 of equity in a vehicle. Up to $10,000 in personal injury recoveries (from an insurance settlement or lawsuit, for example) is also exempt. Here’s a detailed list of Georgia exemptions.
The Means Test
When you file for bankruptcy, you must compare your income to the median income for a Georgia household of your size. If your income is less than the Georgia state median, you will be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and, if you choose to file for Chapter 13, you can use a three-year repayment plan (rather than five years).
Currently, the median income for a four-person Georgia household just over $64,000. these figures change periodically. You can find the most recent amounts on the website of the U.S. Trustee at www.justice.gov/ust. Click on “Bankruptcy Reform,” and then “Means Testing Information.” Or go directly to the Census Bureau table here.
Debtor Education in Georgia
After you file for bankruptcy but before you receive your discharge, you must take a debtor education course. Like the mandatory credit counseling you must take before filing your forms, you must receive debtor education from an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee’s Office. Here’s a list of agencies that are approved to provide this counseling in Georgia.
Finding a Bankruptcy Lawyer
If you're considering bankruptcy, you may want to talk to an experienced Georgia bankruptcy lawyer.