Can You File For Bankruptcy While In Jail? Should You?

Being sent to jail is a life-changing event for anyone. Unfortunately, it can also have implications well beyond the actual prison sentence. For many, this includes serious financial implications. If you struggle with financial problems while serving a sentence, can you still take advantage of the legal protection offered by bankruptcy? Should you do so? And where can you start? Here's what you need to know.

Can You File Bankruptcy In Jail?

The short answer to this question is yes. You can file for bankruptcy even if currently behind bars. Bankruptcy protection is not negated due to where you live or how you got there. 

Should You File Bankruptcy In Jail?

A more complex question is whether or not you should file while in jail. This depends on your personal circumstances. In some cases, your debts will simply remain in place or accumulate interest if you have no income. A person with no income and little or no assets is often considered "judgment proof." In this case, you may find that it's easier to deal with the discharge of debts after you get out. 

However, many inmates do have assets or income they want to protect from creditors. And they may have co-signers who are adversely impacted if they don't pay. Your family may need these assets or money, so you may not be able to wait until you are released. Even though it's complicated, then, filing while in jail may be necessary. 

Finally, consider the dischargeability of your debts. Some court-ordered judgments and restitution may not be dischargeable. If your debt is due to your conviction, you may not get much relief. 

Is Filing In Jail Harder?

Unfortunately, filing for bankruptcy is more difficult while in prison. You'll need to meet with a bankruptcy attorney, which is made more challenging when you can't leave. You may also need to file for bankruptcy in a different state than where you currently are.

The good news is that modern technology has made it easier to file while in jail. Many courts provide alternative arrangements for those who can't attend the mandatory creditors' meeting in person. You can also work with an attorney, file documents, and attend credit counseling remotely in most cases. 

Where Should You Start?

While it may be intimidating to think about filing bankruptcy while serving time, you can get help from an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your home state. Contact a local bankruptcy attorney to learn more.