There are two alternative systems that can be used to "exempt" property from a bankruptcy estate, federal exemptions[38] (available in some states but not all), and state exemptions (which vary widely between states). For example, Maryland and Virginia, which are adjoining states, have different personal exemption amounts that cannot be seized for payment of debts. This amount is the first $6,000 in property or cash in Maryland,[39] but normally only the first $5,000 in Virginia.[40] State law therefore plays a major role in many bankruptcy cases, such that there may be significant differences in the outcome of a bankruptcy case depending upon the state in which it is filed.


Relief under Chapter 13 is available only to individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed prescribed limits.[55] If the debtor is an individual or a sole proprietor, the debtor is allowed to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to repay all or part of the debts. Secured creditors may be entitled to greater payment than unsecured creditors.[53]

When the debtor completes payments pursuant to the terms of the plan, the court formally grant the debtor a discharge of the debts provided for in the plan.[54] However, if the debtor fails to make the agreed upon payments or fails to seek or gain court approval of a modified plan, a bankruptcy court will normally dismiss the case on the motion of the trustee.[57] After a dismissal, creditors may resume pursuit of state law remedies to recover the unpaid debt. 

There are lots of reasons people file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You're probably not the only one, whatever your reason is. Some common reasons for filing for bankruptcy are unemployment, large medical expenses, seriously overextended credit, and marital problems. Chapter 7 is sometimes referred to as a "straight bankruptcy." A Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates your assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible. The cash from your assets is distributed to creditors like banks and credit card companies.


Chapter 13 means the court approves a plan for you to repay some or all of your debts over three to five years. You get to keep your assets (stuff you own) and you’re given time to bring your mortgage up to date. You agree to a monthly payment plan and must follow a strict budget monitored by the court. This kind of bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years.
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Bankruptcy statistics are also a trailing indicator. There is a time delay between financial difficulties and bankruptcy. In most cases, several months or even years pass between the financial problems and the start of bankruptcy proceedings. Legal, tax, and cultural issues may further distort bankruptcy figures, especially when comparing on an international basis. Two examples:
Debt consolidation may or may not be a good idea, depending on your situation. Lower interest is a good thing, but turning unsecured debts (like credit card bills) into secured debts (like a home equity loan) can be a costly mistake if you eventually file bankruptcy anyway. Unsecured debts can often be eliminated in bankruptcy, while most secured debts cannot. If you can't pay your secured debt -- or if the payments are late -- you may lose your home.
If a person commits an act of bankruptcy, then a creditor can apply to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court for a sequestration order.[19] Acts of bankruptcy are defined in the legislation, and include the failure to comply with a bankruptcy notice.[20] A bankruptcy notice can be issued where, among other cases, a person fails to pay a judgment debt.[21] A person can also seek to have themself declared bankrupt by lodging a debtor's petition with the "Official Receiver",[22] which is the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).[23]
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Individuals who make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy may file under Chapter 13, also known as a wage earner's plan. The chapter allows individuals and businesses with consistent income to create workable debt repayment plans. The repayment plans are commonly in installments over the course of a three- to five-year period. In exchange for repaying their creditors, the courts allow these debtors to keep all of their property including nonexempt property.
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