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Christopher S. Mulvaney


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 $500 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. Have income below median income for your family size or pass the means test.
    2. Not have 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 have any non-exempt assets that you are unwilling to surrender to the Bankruptcy Trustee.
    4. Have filed tax returns for the past 4 years if required to do so, and
    5. Be 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 11-01-2023

Family Size  –  Annual Median Income 

  1.                    $83,136
  2.                    $96,815
  3.                    $113,759
  4.                    $134,300

Plus $9,900 for each additional family member

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.