Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Requirements for Filing

To file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you begin your Chapter 13 case by filing a petition with the bankruptcy court serving the area where you live. It will include schedules of assets and liabilities, a schedule of current income and expenditures, a schedule of contracts and unexpired leases, and a financial statement.

You must also submit a certificate of Credit Counseling. If you created a debt repayment plan in credit counseling, you must submit a copy of that plan to the bankruptcy court with your petition, along with proof of payments received from your employer for the past 60 days, a statement of any expected increases in income or expenses after filing and a record of any interest held by the provider in federal or state qualified education or tuition accounts.

Copies of your tax return for the most recent tax year must also be submitted with the petition. Tax returns filed during the case must be turned into the trustee, including tax returns from years prior to the filing if they had not been filed when the case began.

A Bankruptcy Attorney in your area can provide you with more information and assistance preparing the documentation necessary for filing your Chapter 13 case.

Automatic Stay

Filing a Chapter 13 petition puts into place an automatic stay. That means that creditors must stop action on and cannot continue lawsuits or wage garnishments. It will stop telephone calls from creditors demanding payment. The bankruptcy clerk will notify all creditors listed in the case about the filing. The "automatic stay" will also halt foreclosure proceedings. This will allow you to stay in your home and catch up on back payments during the repayment period of your Chapter 13 case.

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After You File

You must file a repayment plan with the court within 15 days of filing. Sometimes an extension can be granted. It must provide for regular payments to the bankruptcy trustee, who will then make the payments to your creditors based on the priority of the debt. A bankruptcy attorney can assist you with preparing the plan or seeking an extension. Your payments to the trustee will be based on the calculation of your disposable income. Your bankruptcy lawyer will explain how your disposable income is calculated.

After you file, a meeting of creditors will be held between 20 and 50 days. The bankruptcy trustee will place you under oath. The trustee and your creditors will be allowed to ask you questions about your financial situation and your debts. You must attend the meeting.

After the meeting of creditors, you must attend a court hearing before a bankruptcy judge on the proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan. The judge will make a determination on the plan and your case will either move forward or you may have to form a new repayment plan. Usually the judge approves the plan worked out by you, the trustee and your creditors.

Discharge

Once you have completed the Chapter 13 repayment plan approved by the court, you are entitled to a discharge from your remaining debt, with a few exceptions that may depend upon your case. Your bankruptcy attorney will explain to you why it is important that you meet all of the obligations of your Chapter 13 repayment plan, and how the discharge will apply to you.