- 1). Visit the county clerk's office to find out what liens have been attached against your property. By law, all liens must be recorded with the county clerk.
- 2). Determine whether the liens are consensual, meaning you agreed to have them attached to your property (such as with a mortgage) or the liens were attached by operation of law. For example, liens can be attached to your property for failure to pay taxes. Also look for judicial liens, liens that are attached to your property by the court after a judgment has been rendered against you. Most consensual liens cannot be wiped out through bankruptcy, with the exception of second mortgages in certain situations. However, judicial liens and other liens created by operation of law can be wiped out, with one exception. Liens created by operation of law for failure to pay taxes cannot be wiped out in bankruptcy.
- 3). Determine if you are eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. To be eligible, debtors generally must have a regular source of income that exceeds their reasonable living expenses, less than $360,475 in secured debts and less than $1,081,400 in unsecured debt.
- 4). Obtain a voluntary petition for bankruptcy from the courthouse or download a copy from UScourts.gov.
- 5). Complete the petition and file it with the court clerk. You will also need to pay a filing fee. As of January 2011, the filing fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $274.