This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cropped-CSM-Pro-Head-Shot.jpg
Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.


Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a way to permanently bar creditors from collecting most debts. If you qualify, you can completely discharge many types of debt, including credit card balances and medical bills, as well as halt foreclosure proceedings.  I am bankruptcy attorney Christopher S. Mulvaney of Mulvaney Law Offices, PLLC. I am passionate about empowering people to take back control of their financial lives, so that they can focus on their most important and deeply held values. At my law office in Bellevue, Washington, I help people understand and access debt relief.

ALWAYS START WITH THE WORST-CASE SCENARIO WHEN ANALYZING YOUR OPTIONS.  By doing this kind of scenario planning, you will be the most prepared and the most able to avoid the worst-case scenario, which is bankruptcy.

 Authorize me to download your credit report at this link, do Credit Counseling online for 90 minutes, pay the costs of $415 at this LawPay Link, and  Start Your Questionnaire.  After that we can have a ZOOM meeting to go over the whole petition, attorney’s fees, and strategy regarding timing filing.

If you have not been sued, you can mail this cease and desist letter to any creditors who mail you a collection notice.  Ignore all calls from creditors. 

Cease and Desist Letter    

If you have been sued, then you can use the Notice of Appearance below to get email notice of everything filed in your case.  This will avoid having a default Judgment entered against you without notice.  Typically, the Motion for Default is set for hearing at least 30 days ahead.  This is valuable time.

Notice of Appearance


    1. Below median income for your family size or passing of means test.
    2. Not having filed Chapter 7 in the past 8 full years and received a Discharge, or filed a Chapter 13 in the past 6 full years and received a Discharge.
    3. Not having any non-exempt assets that you are unwilling to surrender
    4. Being current on your house and car payments if you wish to keep your home and vehicles.

Is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Right For You?

Many people fear Chapter 7 bankruptcy, because they worry they will have to give up their property, and that filing will ruin their credit. In reality, many filers keep most or all of their possessions through exemptions, and I help all my clients rebuild their credit after bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a last resort after all other options have been exhausted. It is not appropriate for everyone. As your lawyer, I will work with you to decide whether Chapter 7 is an appropriate option for your circumstances. If so, I will help you file properly to avoid serious legal and financial pitfalls.

Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA):  

It is only your ability and willingness to file for bankruptcy protection that gives you any negotiating leverage.  By analyzing what you may need to do if you cannot settle with creditors you increase the chances of avoiding bankruptcy if possible as well as avoiding making futile payments.
This is a link that explains why.

Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTIR):  A guideline for determining if bankruptcy protection may be appropriate for you is the relationship between your income and the total amount of non-mortgage debt you have.  35% is considered high risk.  For example, if you earn $50,000 per year and your debt is more than $17,500 your chances of paying off your debt are poor.  At the same income if you owe $25,000 (50% DTIR) or more your chances of paying off your debt are approaching nil.  If your DTIR is 100% or more there is no point in continuing to pay unsecured creditors whose balances can be discharged in bankruptcy.

The Means Test

To qualify for Chapter 7, your income must be below the median for your family size (in which case you don’t take the means test) or if your income is above the median for your family size you must pass the means test. Passing means having less than $100 per month in disposable income.

Median income: If your average gross monthly income falls below the median for your family size, you do not have to take the means test.  If above the median, proceed to step two unless more than half of your total debt is business debt.  In that case you are exempt from the Means Test.

For Cases Filed After 04-01-2021

Family Size  –  Annual Median Income –    Monthly Median Income

  1.                       $71,060                  –    $5,922
  2.                      $86,240                  –    $7,187
  3.                      $99,848                  –    $8,329
  4.                      $113,566                 –    $9,464
  5.                      $122,566                 –    $10,214
  6.                     $131,566                   –    $10,964

Plus $9,000 for each additional family member above 6)

The original source for the State Median Family Income is the Census Bureau.

U.S. Trustee Program_Dept. of Justice – Median Incomes By State

The original source for the National and Local Standards is the IRS.

Below are the National Standards.

U.S. Trustee Program_Dept. of Justice – West Transport Expenses

U.S. Trustee Program_Dept. of Justice – Out of Pocket Health Care Standards

U.S. Trustee Program_Dept. of Justice – National Living Standards USDOJ_

U.S. Trustee Program » Means Testing – Washington Living Expenses

Disposable income as calculated by the Means Test: Disposable income is the amount of money available to pay creditors as calculated by subtracting certain allowed living expenses from your average gross monthly income. If you cannot pay the amount the means test says you should, then an affidavit of special circumstances is required to explain why not. You may be able to obtain a Chapter 7 discharge if your circumstances are uncommon and compelling.

If the means test shows disposable income of less than $100 per month then you pass and can file under Chapter 7, if not then proceed with analyzing your options in Chapter 13.

USTP Position on Legal Issues Arising Under The Chapter 7 Means Test


When you are ready to sit down and talk about whether bankruptcy is a good fit for you please email me at  I will give you an overview of your options, and together, we will come up with a plan to get you working toward financial freedom.

Top 10 Bankruptcy Pitfalls

Great care must be taken when filing for bankruptcy. Certain missteps can mean that your bankruptcy is not as helpful as it could have been, while other mistakes can lead to charges for fraud.

The following do’s and don’ts of bankruptcy can lead to serious problems for filers who get them wrong. When preparing to file and during the process:

  1. Do not borrow money or withdraw money from a retirement account.
  2. Do not take cash advances or use credit.
  3. Do not pay unsecured creditors.
  4. Do not pay back family members.
  5. Do not settle debt.
  6. Do not bank where you have credit.
  7. Cancel all automatic payments.
  8. Report all assets. Do not sell or transfer assets.
  9. Before filing, verify your car lien.
  10. Do not have secured and unsecured loans with one creditor.

Legal Services Offered





While my practice is centered on helping consumers get out of debt and protect themselves and their families in the event of death or incapacity, I am happy to offer additional legal services to my existing estate planning and bankruptcy clients.

Are you worried about mounting debt?

Or facing a Judgment, Garnishment or Foreclosure?

Have you been putting off getting an estate plan for too long?

I offer my clients legal counsel regarding foreclosure, buying and selling real estate, Transfer on Death Deeds, and real estate matters generally.  

MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not do litigation.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:

To Always Be a Human Being First – and My Role Second. 

To First, Do No Harm, then to provide the best legal outcome, smoothest process, best value, and to make a positive difference in the life of every client.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mantra:

May I be filled with loving kindness for all life.

May I be safe from dangers within and without.

May I be healthy in body, mind, socially, and spiritually.

May I be at ease and happy doing good in the world.

Every client is an estate planning client. 

Additional services related to debt, bankruptcy, and real estate are available to estate planning clients.

I offer initial ZOOM legal consultations to prospective estate planning and bankruptcy clients for two reasons:

(1) determining if the issues are within my practice areas (the “wheelhouse“), and

(2) determining whether a potential client is willing to let me lead them to the best likelihood of achieving a favorable outcome with the smoothest process of getting there. 


DISCLAIMER:  The use of email or this form for communication with MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC does not establish an Attorney-Client Relationship. Time-sensitive information should not be sent through this Form or through email.  Confidential information can be uploaded into a shared encrypted folder after you have made initial contact with me.

For more information about my practice in Bellevue, Washington, please consult my Blog.

  • Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.

If you have read this far, you may be interested to know what I need to explain to potential clients very quickly which is the intersection in the Venn Diagram above of my practice areas and insurance coverage. As you can see the numbers of case types that are not in my practice areas is large, as is the number of case types that are neither in my practice area nor covered by legal insurance. The intersection is what I call the Wheelhouse. It contains two practice areas – estate planning and bankruptcy that pay all of the bills.

The small miscellaneous bit of my practice which I only do in conjunction with estate planning (bankruptcy is also done in conjunction with estate planning, so every client is an estate planning client. The challenge to me is to quickly explain to prospective clients that the long list of miscellaneous services on the left side of the diagram do not pay the bills – they are simply done to assist my estate planning clients with other matters that are not economical for lawyers to handle in isolation, so they would likely have difficulty finding counsel to assist them.

That is the difference between paying out of pocket by the hour and using flat fee legal insurance. If you are paying by the hour, you have more latitude regarding what the scope of service includes and what it does not. However, if the issue is too small you are not likely to find a lawyer to assist you even if you are willing to pay more than the market hourly rate because many smaller cases interfere with revenue production, increase stress, and increase risk.

That is an important part of why I do what I do the way I do it. There are many lawyers to serve you if you have means, in the manner you wish to be served. However, the majority of middle class and lower middle class people do not have access to legal representation and advice when they need it. In 1979, I heard Jimmy Carter give a speech in which he said that America is over lawyered and under represented. That is more true now than it was then.

I see my niche in the law as representing people in the most economical way possible for the most people, which is through legal insurance. Egalitarian access to legal services affordable by as many people as possible is a value for me. I have the privilege of earning a living in a manner that is consistent with my values. So, if you choose to become a client of MULVANEY LAW OFFICES, PLLC I thank you for allowing me to be who I am in my work, and to serve with my whole self – not divorced from consideration for the good of society in the pursuit of forever more profit.