If you are considering filing for bankruptcy but are not sure of your eligibility, the quickest and best way to figure it out is to meet with a lawyer. That said, there are guidelines that can give you a general idea as to whether you qualify.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is means-based, while Chapter 13 looks at certain caps for secured and unsecured debt and at criteria such as whether your income is regular.
For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your monthly income for the past six months is compared with the Florida median income for a household of the same size. If the figures show your income falls under the median, you are eligible, and you may even be able to keep your house and car.
But what if your income is above the median? You may still be able to qualify for Chapter 7, but you have to answer more questions to determine where your income is after you have paid certain expenses. If it turns out your net income is enough to allow you to pay creditors for unsecured debt at least 25 percent of what you owe them, Chapter 7 is not an option. Exceptions include if you have taken part in certain types of military service or most of your debt is business-related. Also, if you have recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, you might not qualify this time around. For instance, you have to wait 180 days to file again if you did not appear in court, and because of that, your bankruptcy was dismissed.
Chapter 13 is a good option for people who have regular, steady income. Income includes job salaries, royalties, commissions, Social Security benefits, alimony and much more, so there may be several income streams you must consider. Your secured debts, such as a house or car loan, cannot be higher than $1,184,200 (the number may change in April 2019). For unsecured debts such as credit cards, the ceiling is $394,725.