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Can I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

When most people file for bankruptcy, they file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Businesses and consumers can take advantage of this common filing, which sees nonexempt assets sold off to pay outstanding debts and discharges some debts outright. Less common is a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, which sees people pay off their debts over a three to five year period. One of the reasons that Chapter 13 is less common is because there are more strict requirements for eligibility.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not discharge debts, nor does it sell property to manage debt. Instead, it uses a number of factors to create a debt repayment plan. Because this plan is based off factors such as income and how much debt you owe, you must meet many different criteria to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A more detailed listing of these criteria can be found here.

If you wish to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot be a business entity, nor can you file if you have recently filed another form of bankruptcy. You must also meet with a credit counseling agency within 180 days of filing to ensure that you have adequate counsel about your particular circumstances. Because Chapter 13 still sees you pay off your debts, albeit over a longer period, your debts cannot be so high that they are impossible to pay off. Generally, your unsecured debt cannot exceed $336,900 and your secured debt cannot exceed $1,010,650.

If you decide that you need the debt relief that bankruptcy offers you, an attorney can also help you decide which filing would be more appropriate for your circumstances. Many of the variables in bankruptcy, such as which properties are exempt from sale, vary by state, so if you live in Texas, seeking advice from an attorney familiar with Texas laws would be in your best interests.

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