How to File Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves two steps: receiving credit counseling from an approved agency and filing a petition with the appropriate bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy petition typically consists of a package of more than a dozen forms.

Because Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the outcome is different. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates your assets and wipes the slate clean, Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes your debts and sets up a repayment plan that aligns with the amount of your disposable income. At the end of your repayment period, any remaining debts included in the reorganization plan are forgiven.

Credit Counseling

In the six months prior to filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must receive approved credit counseling. The U.S. Department of Justice provides a list of acceptable credit counseling agencies for each bankruptcy court district. Some agencies provide online credit counseling, some provide phone counseling, some provide in-person counseling, and some provide more than one format. The Justice Department’s online listing also notes which agencies provide counseling in languages other than English.

The Chapter 13 Petition

To begin the process of Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must file a petition with the bankruptcy court that has jurisdiction in the area where you live. For example, if you live in Stamford, Connecticut, you would file at the Connecticut Bankruptcy Court in Bridgeport. If you live in Florida, there are bankruptcy courts in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Fort Myers. You would file in the court closest to you.

Your Chapter 13 petition will likely consist of more than a dozen forms, including:

Petition (Form 101): This eight-page form asks for a variety of basic information, such as your name and address, any previous bankruptcy petitions, and estimates of your assets and liabilities.

Social Security Number statement (Form 121): A single page asking about all Social Security and Taxpayer Identification Numbers you have used.

Summary of Assets and Liabilities (Form 106): Two pages that summarize the information contained in the schedules that you will include in your petition package.

Schedule A/B: A ten-page form that lists all of your property, including real estate, motor vehicles, furniture, electronics, firearms, clothes, jewelry, and pets. It also asks about your bank accounts, cash on hand, stocks, bonds, retirement or pension, copyrights, licenses, and so forth. You must also list money owed to you, along with any business-related property you have.

Schedule C: This two-page form requires you to list any property you are claiming as exempt from bankruptcy.

Schedule D: A three-page form that asks about all creditors who have claims that are secured by property. For example, this could include an auto loan for which your car is collateral or a mortgage lender for which real estate is collateral.

Schedule E/F: Six pages that ask for a list of creditors who have priority unsecured claims and nonpriority unsecured claims. Priority claims are things like child support, taxes, student loans, and criminal fines. Nonpriority claims are things like credit card debt. You’ll also need to supply a list of anyone else who will need to be notified about your bankruptcy filing, such as debt collection agencies.

Schedule G: A two-page form that requires you to list companies with which you have current contracts or leases.

Schedule H: This two-page form asks you if you have any codebtors, such as people who co-signed loans with you. If so, you list them here.

Schedule I: This form inquires about your income, including wages, business income, retail property income, unemployment, social security, interest, and support payments.

Schedule J: Three pages that ask about your dependents and ongoing monthly expenses, ranging from rent or mortgage payments to food, transportation, recreation, and charitable donation expenses.

Schedule J-2: If you and your spouse are jointly petitioning for bankruptcy but live in separate households, this form asks for all of your spouse’s expenses.

Calculation of Commitment Period (Form 122C-1): This form determines whether your repayment period will be three years or five years. Your income is compared to the median income in your state. If your income exceeds the median, your repayment period will be five years. Otherwise, it will be three years.

What else?

There are other documents that will be included in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition package, such as your Chapter 13 plan, your credit counseling certificate, a mailing list of all creditors, and a request to receive electronic notices.

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is complex. Seeking help from a bankruptcy attorney ensures that all of forms and schedules are included in your bankruptcy petition and that it is filed in a timely and accurate manner.

Lemberg Law has a team devoted to representing clients who pursue bankruptcy as a way to resolve their debts. Call 844-685-9200 and receive a free consultation, or submit our online request form.

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