Median income is set by the US Trustee and determined based on household size. In Florida, as of May 1, 2018 median income is as follows: Household of 1 -- $48,000; Household of 2 -- $58,960; Household of 3 -- $65,278; Household of 4 -- $76,953; Household of 5 -- $85,353; Household of 6 -- $93,753; Household of 7 -- $102,153; Household of 8 -- $110,553; Household of 9 -- $118,953; Household of 10 -- $127,353. Source: https://www.justice.gov/ust/means-testing
After meeting with a bankruptcy lawyer, you can expect to feel a great sense of relief (it’s wonderful knowing that a solution is in sight) and want to get the process started. Many people who don’t have the funds turn to friends and family—and sometimes even employers—and find most understanding when it comes to a request for help with bankruptcy fees. It’s likely because it’s cheaper to help someone fix a financial problem once and for all, rather than to help out on an ongoing basis.
Bankruptcy fraud is a white-collar crime. While difficult to generalize across jurisdictions, common criminal acts under bankruptcy statutes typically involve concealment of assets, concealment or destruction of documents, conflicts of interest, fraudulent claims, false statements or declarations, and fee fixing or redistribution arrangements. Falsifications on bankruptcy forms often constitute perjury. Multiple filings are not in and of themselves criminal, but they may violate provisions of bankruptcy law. In the U.S., bankruptcy fraud statutes are particularly focused on the mental state of particular actions. Bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime in the United States.
A good way to approach the decision of whether to hire a lawyer is to buy (and read) Nolo's book How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It will give you a good idea of what issues may arise when you file, and flags specific situations when a lawyer's help is called for. It will also give you a good idea of whether the filing process seems to complicated for you.
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court—and your creditors—assume that you’ll stop making payments on bills that will get discharged (wiped out) in your bankruptcy case and use the funds to pay legal fees instead. For instance, credit card payments, medical bills, past-due utility payments, and personal loans (such as payday loans) usually qualify for a discharge.
In Chapter 13, debtors retain ownership and possession of all their assets, but must devote some portion of future income to repaying creditors, generally over three to five years. The amount of payment and period of the repayment plan depend upon a variety of factors, including the value of the debtor's property and the amount of a debtor's income and expenses. Under this chapter, the debtor can propose a repayment plan in which to pay creditors over three to five years. If the monthly income is less than the state's median income, the plan is for three years, unless the court finds "just cause" to extend the plan for a longer period. If the debtor's monthly income is greater than the median income for individuals in the debtor's state, the plan must generally be for five years. A plan cannot exceed the five-year limit.
When the debtor completes payments pursuant to the terms of the plan, the court formally grant the debtor a discharge of the debts provided for in the plan. However, if the debtor fails to make the agreed upon payments or fails to seek or gain court approval of a modified plan, a bankruptcy court will normally dismiss the case on the motion of the trustee. After a dismissal, creditors may resume pursuit of state law remedies to recover the unpaid debt.