In Georgia, if you cannot afford legal representation or if you simply want to avoid the expense of a lawyer, you have the right to represent yourself in bankruptcy court. Filing bankruptcy without a lawyer, also called filing pro se, is a viable option for debtors with few assets and financial situations that are not complicated by business and partnership obligations or large investments. You will need basic knowledge about bankruptcy in Georgia as well as thorough knowledge of your own finances.
Obtain a credit counseling certificate from a court-approved counseling provider within 180 days of filing for bankruptcy. Find classes on the Georgia bankruptcy court's website, or contact the court by phone.
Assemble your debt and income documentation. Include things like pay stubs, tax returns, credit card statements, mortgage and auto loan information and regular household expenses.
Acquire the Georgia bankruptcy petition and accompanying forms by downloading them from your district's website or by going to the court house.
Perform the included Means Test to determine if you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If your income is below the median of $40,760 as of October 2009, you can file Chapter 7. If not, and you have at least $100 after paying your household expenses, you must file Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Fill out the petition for the type of bankruptcy you have qualified for. Provide complete and truthful information about your income, assets, expenses and debts to avoid missing a creditor or causing delays or dismissal of your case.
File the petition at the district courthouse in your area. Pay a $299 filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and a $274 filing fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Make the payment by cash or money order because Georgia bankruptcy courts do not accept check or credit card payments from debtors without lawyers. The court will give you a date for the Meeting of Creditors, or 341 meeting, as well as appoint a trustee to look over your case.
Create a three to five year repayment plan if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Develop a plan that pays back as much of your debt as possible within your means. Consult the trustee of your case to ensure the plan is beneficial for all parties and then file the plan with the court clerk. Begin paying once the plan is approved. Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not require a payment plan.
Attend the 341 meeting and answer any questions the trustee or any creditors in attendance have. Answer questions honestly and fully to avoid jeopardizing a discharge of your debts.
Complete post-bankruptcy counseling approved by the Georgia bankruptcy courts within 45 days of the 341 meeting. File the certificate with the court and wait for discharge of your debt if you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Continue with your payment plan if you are in Chapter 13 bankruptcy.