Considering bankruptcy? Understand which option is the best for you.
Bankruptcy can be a viable solution to resolve your financial hardships and help get you back on track. Bankruptcy is not, however, a magic wand so it is important to understand the differences and obligations.
Two of the more common forms of bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
So which is right for you? Well, that depends on your situation but here is a brief overview to guide you.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is called liquidation or wipe out because it eliminates unsecured debts like credit cards, medical bills, personal loans and judgments. It also stops garnishments from your paycheck.
It is important to understand that Chapter 7 does not typically eliminate certain kinds of debt like student loans, certain types of taxes, court ordered alimony payments, maintenance or support payments, fines, penalties or criminal restitutions.
Chapter 7 does allow you to keep your house if you continue to maintain your payments and if you can exempt the equity you already have in that property. It also allows you to keep your car if you maintain the payments, have a reasonable payment and can protect the equity you have in it.
If keeping your house or car is a priority, Chapter 7 may be the right answer for you.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is essentially a reorganization or repayment of some or all of your debt. There are typically two types of debt covered within a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan: secured and unsecured debts. Secured debts are debts that have a lien attached to them, like a house or car. Unsecured debts are credit cards, medical bills and personal loans.
On average, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case lasts from three to five years with the final length of time determined by your income. The most common uses of Chapter 13 involve restructuring auto loans to save a vehicle or repayment of mortgage arrears (back amounts owed on your home).
If you're trying to stop foreclosure or vehicle repossession, Chapter 13 may be the right answer for you.