There are many contributing factors that are associated with financial troubles. The most common reasons include unmanageable debt, divorce, loss of a job, illness, or home foreclosure.

In fact, the average credit card debt in Ohio is a whopping $5,148 per person. In addition, foreclosure rates are also as staggering, one out of every 1,375 OH homes is currently in foreclosure.

If you can relate to the scenarios above, then you are more than likely struggling with other personal problems that come with dealing with debt. The fear of losing your car, house or your money can drain a person emotionally. You have probably even considered Filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy .

If you are thinking “Is Bankruptcy Best For Me?” you are certainly not alone. Around a million people file bankruptcy each year in the United States. Bankruptcy is a tool provided by the US Government to help struggling Americans find relief from heavy debt. You may want to consider personal bankruptcy if it’s best for you.

What Is Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy provides people with the opportunity to lift their financial burden while still working with lenders in a legal capacity. It is initiated by a person filing a Petition with their nearest bankruptcy court. The Petition can be filed by a person or by spouses jointly. When the bankruptcy is over, the filer will ‘exit’ and will have a chance for a fresh start on their finances.

Throughout the bankruptcy process, a trustee is appointed to oversee the particulars of the matter. His or her duties differ and depend on whether the individual has filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Did you know that Ohio ranks #13 in the nation for bankruptcy filings. In 2017 the number of personal bankruptcies was approximately 360 out of every 100,000 residents.

What Is The Difference Between Chapter 7 And Chapter 13?

Individuals or couples in Ohio, who claim bankruptcy, can choose to file under Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. What is the difference? Take a look at the descriptions below for more information:

Chapter 7

The trustee of the bankruptcy will liquidate the assets, such as cars, homes, and other property of value in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy proceeding, In exchange for dissolving all past due debts.

Debtors that were listed on the bankruptcy filing will be repaid with the proceeds collected during liquidation

Chapter 13

A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy plan is reserved for people who have the means to pay some of their debts through a restructuring. The individual will be allowed to retain his or her valuable assets over a 3- to 5-year period.

In order to determine which type of bankruptcy an individual will file, they will have to determine their ability to repay under the Bankruptcy Means Test.

What Is A Bankruptcy Means Test?

The goal of the Bankruptcy Means Test is to determine who is eligible to apply for debt forgiveness through a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. It takes into account your:

  • income and expenses
  • household size and composition
  • debt-to-income ratio

If you do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be able to file for Chapter 13, as above-described.

What Are Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Specific states have certain exclusions that are enacted by congress as federal bankruptcy exemptions for filers. These exemptions will determine what you are able to retain throughout and after Chapter 7. In a Chapter 13 situation, the exemptions will determine what amount you will have to pay certain financial institutions in your repayment plan.

Unless otherwise noted, all law references are to the Ohio Revised Code.


  • Real or personal property used as a residence up to $136,925. Tenancies by the entirety may be exempt as to debts of one spouse.

Personal Property

  • Burial plot.
  • (1) motor vehicle up to $3,775; (2) cash, bank, and security deposits, tax refund and money due within 90 days up to $475 total; (3) household goods, furnishings, appliances, books, animals, musical instruments, firearms, hunting and fishing equipment and crops up to $600 per item, jewelry up to $1,600; $12,625 total (4) health aids; (5) wrongful death recoveries for person you depended upon for support; (6) compensation for lost future earnings needed for support; (7) personal injury recoveries up to $23,700; and (8) Tuition credit or payment. NOTE: Section 2329.66 is relatively detailed and complex, so be sure to read it.


  • Greater of the following: 30 times the federal minimum hourly wage or minimum of 75% of disposable weekly earnings. Judge may approve more for low income debtors.  In re Jones, 318 B.R. 841


  • Tax exempt retirement accounts (including 401(k)s, 403(b)s, profit-sharing and money purchase plans, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined benefit plans).
  • IRAS and Roth IRAs to $1,283,025.
  • Public employees.
  • Volunteer firefighters’ dependents.
  • Police officers and firefighters.
  • Public safety officers’ death benefits; ERISA-qualified benefits, IRAs Roth IRAs and Keoghs needed for support.
  • Public school employees.
  • State highway patrol employees.
  • State teacher retirement system.

Public Benefits

  • ¬†Crime victims’ compensation received within one year of filing for bankruptcy.
  • Earned income tax credit and child tax credit.
  • Vocational rehabilitation benefits.
  • Workers’ compensation.
  • Unemployment compensation.
  • Public assistance.
  • Disability assistance.

Tools of Trade

  • Tools, books, and implements of trade up to $2,400.

Alimony and Child Support

  • Alimony and child support needed for support.


  • Benevolent society benefits to $5,000.
  • Group life insurance policy or proceeds.
  • Fraternal benefit society benefits.
  • Disability benefits needed for support.
  • Life, endowment or annuity contract dividends, interest, loan, cash, or surrender value for your spouse, child or other dependent.
  • Life insurance proceeds for spouse.
  • Life insurance proceeds if policy prohibits use to pay creditors.


  • Business partnership property.
  • 529 savings plans.


  • $1,250 of any property.

Want to know if you can include Student Loans in Bankruptcy or Medical Bills in Bankruptcy? Check out our Bankruptcy FAQ’s section.

Filing Bankruptcy Alone vs. Filing With An Attorney

You are not required by law to hire a lawyer to declare relief. Individuals are allowed to represent him or herself as a pro se debtor. You will simply contact the local bankruptcy court and obtain all forms and requirements directly through them. Going it alone is not recommended.

Filing Bankruptcy without an Attorney

A basic Chapter 7 Bankruptcy that doesn’t have a lot of debtors or assets may be easy to manage on your own.

A basic bankruptcy that doesn’t involve an attorney might look like:.

  • Your income is below the state median;
  • You have no property;
  • Your debts will be considered dis-chargeable.

Working With An Attorney

Generally speaking, it is usually in one’s best interest to work with a bankruptcy attorney. A bankruptcy attorney is there to represent you and not the creditors.

An attorney is also keenly familiar with exemption laws. In addition, they can come up with creative strategies to keep your assets through practical repayment strategies that are fair to everyone involved.

While you may have the fight and ability to manage a Bankruptcy on your own, it tends to make things a lot easier on an already stressful situation, especially when there is so much at stake.

What Does Bankruptcy Include?

Once you file for bankruptcy in OH, the courts put in place an order called an Automatic Stay. This order will stop debt collection calls, wage garnishments, and additional claims. Keep in mind that payments regarding child support and criminal cases will still need to be made during this time.

In any event, Bankruptcy will be able to include:

  • credit card debt
  • protection from eviction
  • avoidance of foreclosure
  • utility bills
  • medical expenses

Again, unless you are filing a complex Chapter 13 case, you will lose all assets associated with a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy protection. You will, however, be able to prevent any and all collections from occurring as long as they were incurred before the date of filing and discharge.

Final Thoughts And Considerations On Filing For Bankruptcy In Ohio

As you can see, there a lot of information associated with successfully filing for bankruptcy and then exiting it unscathed or satisfied. Only a licensed bankruptcy attorney can guide you through this arduous process, particularly when it comes to complex cases. Be sure to hire someone you respect and trust.

Bankruptcy Courts In Ohio

Atrium Two
221 East Fourth Street
Cincinnati,OH 45202
Ohio Southern Bankruptcy Court

Old Post Office Building
120 West Third Street
Dayton,OH 45402
Ohio Southern Bankruptcy Court

Schaaf Building
170 North High Street
Columbus,OH 43215
Ohio Southern Bankruptcy Court

James M. Ashley and Thomas W.L. Ashley United States Courthouse
1716 Spielbusch Avenue
Toledo,OH 43604
Ohio Northern Bankruptcy Court

Howard M. Metzenbaum United States Courthouse
201 Superior Avenue
Cleveland,OH 44114
Ohio Northern Bankruptcy Court

John F. Seiberling Federal Building and United States Courthouse
Two South Main Street
Akron,OH 44308
Ohio Northern Bankruptcy Court

Ralph Regula Federal Building and United States Courthouse
401 McKinley Ave SW
Canton,OH 44702
Ohio Northern Bankruptcy Court

Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and United States Courthouse
10 East Commerce Street
Youngstown,OH 44503
Ohio Northern Bankruptcy Court


Additional Ohio Resources

Foreclosure Help Program

Disability SSDI Benefits