A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the specific type of legal proceeding that is granted under Federal statues to provide a repayment program for debts that are owed. Under Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a three-year or a five-year repayment plan is created for specific creditors according to the rules governing bankruptcy and through agreement by all parties involved. The arrangements are all overseen by a trustee who is appointed by the Federal court.
When someone files a Chapter 13, it means that they are not able to repay their debt obligations as they originally agreed to do when the debt was taken on. Chapter 13 bankruptcy law allows for these debts to be reorganized for the purpose of repayment. This is different than a Chapter 7 one, in which the debts are discharged immediately instead of being set up with a repayment schedule.
In most cases, a Chapter 13 one has a repayment plan in which the debtor makes monthly, bimonthly or weekly payments to the trustee. The trustee then provides help by taking care of properly dispersing the payments to the creditors. In most instances, the amount of the debt has been restructured and is less than the full amount that is owed to all the creditors.
It is the trustee in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy who is in the position of analyzing the financial situation of the person filing for bankruptcy, so that he can make a reasonable repayment plan and set the dollar amount of the payments that are to be made to the court monthly. The trustee looks at the earning potential of the family, or the individual, and notes any obligations and living expenses that are needed and then decides on the amount the debtor will be able to repay over the course of the repayment plan.
Because a Chapter 13 requires that regularly scheduled payments be made to the court, it is generally recommended only for debtors who have a regular and stable income. For those who are seasonal workers or freelancers, filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not the best solution for their financial troubles, in most instances.
When a debtor has agreed to the terms and payment plan of a Chapter 13, it is crucial that they always make their payment to the court on time. If they fail to make their payments as agreed, the entire court record and case can be thrown out.
Should this happen, the creditors once again have the right to come after the debtor for the full amount of the debt and the protections under the bankruptcy relief process would not be available to them until they are eligible to file it again.
If it occurs that a debtor, who is under a repayment plan through a Chapter 13, is not able to keep up with the payment schedule, then there is the possibility to find relief from the reorganization provisions agreed upon. In the case of a situation that arises, in which the debtor is unable to make the payments to the court as agreed, such as in the case of losing a job or other source of income or if they have an extended illness, they might be able to file a bankruptcy claim form known as a "hardship discharge."
For a debtor who has agreed to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan to be able to seek a "hardship discharge," the case cannot qualify to be changed into a Chapter 7 one instead. It is best to have a bankruptcy attorney reviews the various guidelines and requirements before trying to make any type of changes to a Chapter 13 plan.
Any type of change to a filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy means that the debtor must return to the court and this step can be both stressful and expensive. Because of this, it is strongly recommended to make every effort to stick to the repayment plan.