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What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Todays Date: December 10, 2018

The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income is known as Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.

A chapter 13 bankruptcy is also called a wage earner’s plan. It enables individuals with regular income to develop a plan to repay all or part of their debts.

The heart of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the Chapter 13 Plan, which the debtor proposes as a way of making payments to creditors over a three to five year period. The period can be as little as 3 years if the debtor’s current monthly income averaged over the last six months is below the state median.

If the debtor’s current monthly income is greater than the applicable state median, the bankruptcy plan generally must be for five years. In no case may a Chapter 13 plan provide for payments over a period longer than five years. During this time the law forbids creditors from starting or continuing collection efforts.

There are many advantages a Chapter 13 has over a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy. One big advantage is that a Chapter 13 allows individuals a chance to save and keep their homes when facing a foreclosure.

By filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy an individual stops foreclosure proceedings, and can then make payments over the life of the plan that cure past-due delinquent payments. However, the Chapter 13 filer must still make the regular monthly mortgage payments while the Chapter 13 is active.

Another advantage Chapter 13 has over Chapter 7 is that secured debts (other than a home) can be crammed-down or rescheduled and extended over the life of the bankruptcy. This often means substantially lower monthly payments.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy also has a special provision that protects third parties who are liable with the debtor on “consumer debts.” This provision may protect co-signers. Also, chapter 13 acts like a consolidation loan under which the individual makes the plan payments to a chapter 13 trustee who then distributes payments to creditors. Individuals will have no direct contact with creditors while under chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.

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