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Should I file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

You certainly never meant to get head over heels in debt. Yet, here you are, barely scraping by, juggling bills and dodging creditors. You don't even know where to start straightening out your tangled finances.

Slow down. Take a deep breath. There's a path for getting through this. You might not want to consider the idea of filing for bankruptcy, but filing for Chapter 13 could be a real turning point for you financially.

Unlike filing for Chapter 7, which wipes the debt slate mostly clean but can cause you to lose significant assets in order to satisfy your creditors, Chapter 13 reorganizes your debt and allows you several years to pay it off.

Neither process allows debtors to shirk their responsibility for paying spousal or child support arrearages or back taxes. Also, in most cases, student loans can't be discharged in a bankruptcy.

The decision to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not one to be made rashly. Obviously, if you have other debt-paying options to try, these should be attempted before you file for bankruptcy. However, sometimes it is the only option that actually makes any sense given your precarious financial position.

Sometimes debtors are forced to file for Chapter 13 because they can't pass the means test to file for Chapter 7. For many others struggling in these uncertain times, Chapter 13 is a blessing in disguise. It allows you to space out your payments and make a single payment each month to satisfy all of your debts. Then, at the end of either three or five years, your debts will generally be discharged as long as you have upheld the terms of your bankruptcy repayment plan.

Be forewarned that you must strictly follow the repayment plan's terms or you could find yourself defaulting on your agreement. In those situations, the court could revoke your status to file Chapter 13. It could be converted automatically to Chapter 7 and you could lose your assets.

It can be difficult to know how to proceed in such a dilemma. Speaking to a Tampa bankruptcy attorney can provide you with insight and guidance on how to proceed.

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