Cara O'Neill


Cara O'Neill is a legal editor at Nolo, focusing on bankruptcy and small claims. She also maintains a bankruptcy practice at the Law Office of Cara O’Neill and teaches criminal law and legal ethics as an adjunct professor. Cara has been quoted in bankruptcy, finance, small claims, and litigation articles by news outlets that include USA Today, CNBC, U.S. News & World Report, Nerd Wallet, and Yahoo Finance.

Cara received her law degree from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she graduated a member of the Order of the Barristers—a highly-selective honor society that gives national recognition to top law school graduates demonstrating excellent skills in trial advocacy, oral advocacy, and brief writing.

Working at Nolo. Cara started writing for Nolo as a freelancer in 2014 and became a full-time legal editor in 2016. She has authored a number of Nolo self-help legal books, including How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, The New Bankruptcy, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims (national version), and Everybody's Guide to Small Claims in California. She also co-authors and edits Solve Your Money Troubles and Credit Repair and has written hundreds of articles for,,, and

Early legal career. Before joining Nolo, Cara spent 20 years working as a trial attorney litigating criminal and civil cases. She also served as an administrative law judge mediating disputes between auto manufacturers and dealerships and began teaching law as an adjunct professor in 2004. She added bankruptcy to her practice after the 2008 financial downturn.

Origins of litigation and writing career. Thanks to her mother, Cara’s advocacy training began early and involuntarily. In junior high school, she took second place two years running in the local Optimist Club speaking competition. She also successfully competed on her high school speech and debate team for several years, eventually serving as president of the same. During law school, she competed on a nationally ranked ABA moot court team for two years (and was recruited for a third, but declined) and served as a law journal editor.

Articles By Cara O'Neill

Will Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Prevent a Car Repossession?
If you are not making timely car loan payments, Chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot permanently prevent a car repossession. However, Chapter 7 can temporarily delay the lender from repossessing your car and allow you more time to negotiate or cure your default.
Can I Keep My House If I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?
No one wants to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and lose their house. Find out the steps you’ll need to take to keep your home when filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, including how to value your home, calculate home equity, and research homestead bankruptcy exemptions.
The Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Confirmation Hearing
If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court will hold a confirmation hearing. This hearing is central to your Chapter 13 case because it is where the court decides whether to approve (or confirm) your proposed repayment plan. Once your plan is confirmed, your obligations going forward are reset and your creditors must accept your payments in satisfaction of their claims.
Chapter 7 Homestead Exemption
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, whether you can keep your home depends, in large part, on your state's homestead exemption.
What to Do If You Fail the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means Test
In order to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief, you must pass something called the means test. The means test looks at your income and expenses to determine if you can repay a certain portion of your unsecured debts to your creditors. If you can, then you don't qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 Rules: No Means Test Required
When Congress overhauled the bankruptcy laws in 2005, there was a lot of hubbub over the "means test." The good news is that if you plan to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the means test has no bearing
Can I File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy If I Am Unemployed?
There is no bar to filing for bankruptcy if you are unemployed. Like all Chapter 7 bankruptcy filers, you'll have to pass the means test in order to file for Chapter 7. The lower your income, the easier it is to pass.
How to Fill Out Bankruptcy Schedule A/B: Property
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have to fill out a document called Schedule A.
Emergency Bankruptcy Filing
It takes a lot of time to complete the forms necessary to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You’ll use the “emergency bankruptcy filing” or “skeleton bankruptcy filing” procedure when you need to move quickly. The emergency bankruptcy filing process can help you stop a wage garnishment, home foreclosure, lawsuit, and other actions fast. Once you file, the automatic stay that prohibits most creditors from continuing collection actions against you will kick in and give you the breathing room you need.
Will Filing For Bankruptcy Get Back a Repossessed Vehicle?
Repossession of a vehicle is a stressful situation for anyone to have to face. If you’ve had your vehicle repossessed because you haven’t kept up with the payments, you may be wondering if you can get your car back by filing for bankruptcy.