Which Chapter Is Right For Me?

Tampa Bankruptcy Lawyers

When faced with extensive debt and constant harassment from creditors, many individuals and families are interested in the debt relief offered by bankruptcy, but are unsure which chapter is right for their unique situations. At the Law Offices of Buddy D. Ford, P.A., our Tampa bankruptcy attorneys are thoroughly seasoned in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and we are dedicated to providing our clients with the caring and effective legal counsel they need to achieve freedom from debt. We can evaluate your circumstances and help you determine which chapter is right for your life, but it is important to first understand the two main types of consumer bankruptcy.

Chapter 7
This chapter of bankruptcy enables filers to discharge many of their debts and repay their creditors through the liquidation of certain nonexempt assets. If you qualify for Chapter 7 by passing the means test, a bankruptcy court-appointed trustee will gather your nonexempt assets to repay your creditors. After the funds have been distributed, most of your remaining debts will be eliminated. The benefits of pursuing relief through Chapter 7 bankruptcy include:

  • You obtaining relief from your debts in a shorter time period.
  • Your future wages and earnings are not taken into account by the court.
  • You do not have to keep up with monthly payments.
  • Most types of remaining unsecured debts are eliminated.
  • You will be finished with the bankruptcy process within six months to a year.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy helps filers take back control of their financial futures through the reorganization of debt. To file for this chapter, you do not have to pass a means test, and a court-appointed trustee will work with you to create a repayment plan. The repayment plan will last from three to five years, during which time you will make monthly payments that help you repay the balance owed to your creditors. These payments are more affordable, and once the plan time frame is completed, you will be discharged from the remaining balances of most types of unsecured debts. Benefits of filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy include:

  • You do not risk losing any assets to liquidation.
  • The impact on your credit is less.
  • You are able to make a single payment each month, rather than separate payments to each creditor.
  • Your home is protected from foreclosure.
  • You have more time to repay your creditors.

What Do I Hope To Achieve Through Bankruptcy?

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 can be very beneficial to those looking for a way out of debt, but before making a filing decision, it is important to evaluate your goals. Think through the following questions to help you better understand your goals and options.

  • How soon do I hope to be debt-free? If you want to be done with bankruptcy and free of debt as soon as possible, Chapter 7 may be the right choice if you are willing to accept possible loss of assets through liquidation and potential negative impact to your credit score. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically a very short process, with most filers achieving debt relief within a year. If you are not concerned with the length of time and would rather protect your assets and credit score, Chapter 13 will provide you with a few years in which to repay your debts.
  • Can I risk losing my properties and assets? If you are not willing to risk losing certain assets during the liquidation process, Chapter 13 may be a better solution for you. Unlike Chapter 7, in Chapter 13 bankruptcy you retain all properties and assets while slowly repaying your debts over three to five years. If you prefer to finish the bankruptcy process rather than protect your assets, Chapter 7 may be the right choice for your situation.
  • What types of debts do I want to discharge? For many people, the main reason they file for bankruptcy is to have their debts eliminated, but it is important to first know if your debts even qualify for elimination. Before making a decision, it is imperative that you know whether the majority of your debts are eligible to be discharged. Some of the most common debts that cannot be discharged through either chapter of consumer bankruptcy include educational loans, child support and alimony payments, most unpaid taxes, and debts not included in the original bankruptcy arrangement. If the majority of your debts do not qualify for elimination, consider filing for Chapter 13, which will enable you to steadily pay off these debts through a monthly repayment plan.
  • Am I truly comfortable filing for bankruptcy? No matter your circumstances, if you still hope to avoid bankruptcy, it is most likely wisest to wait to file. Many people are hesitant to file for bankruptcy, and in these situations, an attorney from our firm can help you explore available alternatives to find a solution that is best for your needs.

Contact An Experienced Tampa Bankruptcy Attorney!

Our team understands the stress and confusion of constantly struggling with insurmountable debt, which is why we are dedicated to providing the community with caring and attentive legal counsel at every stage of their bankruptcy proceedings. Do not hesitate to contact a Tampa bankruptcy lawyer at our firm at your earliest convenience to discuss your situation. We would be proud to help determine your legal options and guide you through the process to enable you to achieve financial freedom.