Slidell Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyers
Helping Slidell debtors reorganize their debt into a manageable Chapter 13 plan
Navigating a challenging financial situation can be overwhelming, with uncertainties about the best course of action to take and the consequences of various strategies. The Law Office of James A. Graham has helped numerous people in Slidell and across South Louisiana understand and evaluate their financial options. Bankruptcy proceedings can be confusing and complicated, and our firm is dedicated to providing comprehensive guidance to clients. We help ensure they adhere to procedural rules while protecting their assets as much as possible.
What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also known as reorganization, enables those with regular income to develop a repayment plan and address their debts in an organized manner. In this form of bankruptcy, debtors devise a plan to make monthly payments to creditors over a specified period, typically extending from three to five years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a good option for individuals seeking to retain secured assets, such as homes or vehicles, as it allows them to catch up on missed payments over the course of the repayment plan. This type of bankruptcy provides a structured approach for individuals to gradually repay their debts while maintaining certain assets.
How is Chapter 13 bankruptcy different from Chapter 7?
Chapter 13 bankruptcy and Chapter 7 bankruptcy are two distinct types of bankruptcy filings in the United States, each serving different purposes and involving unique processes. Here are the main differences between the two:
- Nature of debt: Chapter 13 is designed for individuals with a regular income who want to reorganize and repay their debts over time, while Chapter 7 involves the sale of non-exempt assets to pay off creditors, with any remaining eligible debts typically discharged.
- Asset protection: Chapter 13 allows debtors to keep their property, including homes and cars, by proposing a repayment plan to catch up on missed payments over three to five years. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, non-exempt assets may be sold to repay creditors, although certain assets are protected by exemptions varying by state.
- Debt discharge: Debtors may receive a discharge of remaining eligible debts after successfully completing a Chapter 13 repayment plan. In Chapter 7, eligible unsecured debts are typically discharged without needing a repayment plan.
- Duration of process: Chapter 13 involves a three- to five-year repayment plan, while a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically completed in a few months because it does not require a repayment plan.
- Eligibility criteria: Individuals with a regular income and unsecured debts below a certain threshold may qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but eligibility for Chapter 7 is determined by the means test, which evaluates income and expenses to determine if the debtor has the means to repay debts.
Ultimately, the choice between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 depends on individual financial circumstances, goals, and eligibility criteria. Our Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyers can provide guidance on the most suitable option for your specific situation.
What kinds of debts can be included in a Chapter 13 plan?
Various types of debts can be included for repayment In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, such as:
- Priority debts: Past-due and ongoing child support and alimony payments. Priority tax debts may be included, but some tax obligations are non-dischargeable.
- Secured debts: If a debtor is behind on their mortgage payments, a Chapter 13 plan can include a provision to catch up on arrears over the repayment period. Past-due payments on car loans and other secured debts can also be included in the plan.
- Unsecured debts: Unsecured credit card balances and charges, unpaid medical expenses and bills, unsecured personal loans, and unpaid utility bills.
- Other debts: Debts resulting from court judgments, past-due homeowners association fees, and debts owed to attorneys for legal services.
Not all debts are treated equally in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, and some debts may not be dischargeable even after the completion of the repayment plan. Priority debts, such as child support and certain taxes, must be completely paid off, while unsecured debts might be partially paid (or not at all), depending on the debtor's disposable income.
How is the repayment amount determined?
The repayment amount in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is determined through a complex process considering various factors related to the debtor's financial situation. The key factors influencing the repayment amount include:
- Disposable income: The cornerstone of a Chapter 13 repayment plan is the debtor's disposable income. This is the amount of income remaining after subtracting necessary living expenses, such as housing, utilities, food, transportation, and health care, from the debtor's total income.
- Income and expenses: The court examines the debtor's regular income and reasonable and necessary living expenses and uses these figures to calculate the disposable income available for debt repayment.
- Duration of the plan: The length of the repayment plan plays a critical role. Chapter 13 plans typically last either three or five years, and the debtor's income and expenses are projected over this period to determine the overall repayment capacity.
- Priority debts: Debts like child support, alimony, and certain taxes must be paid in full through the Chapter 13 plan. The amount allocated to these debts is factored into the overall repayment calculation.
- Secured debts: The plan may include provisions to catch up on mortgage arrears, car loans, or other secured debts, and the debtor may be required to pay these amounts in full or in part.
- Nonexempt assets: If the debtor has nonexempt assets that would have been liquidated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the value of those assets may affect the repayment amount in a Chapter 13 plan. Creditors are entitled to receive at least the value of the nonexempt assets.
- Creditors' interests: The plan must meet the "best interests of creditors" test, ensuring that creditors receive as much as they would have received in a Chapter 7 liquidation.
The specific details of a Chapter 13 plan are tailored to each debtor's unique financial circumstances. The court will review the proposed plan to ensure it complies with bankruptcy laws and is feasible for the debtor.
Do you have a Slidell Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer near me?
The Law Office of James A. Graham serves clients throughout South Louisiana. We are located at 1929 2nd St #A, Slidell, LA 70458. We also have a location in New Orleans, and we will schedule phone or video conferences as needed for those who are unable to travel to our offices.
Get help from a respected Slidell Chapter 13 lawyer today
If you or someone you know is considering filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, the Law Office of James A. Graham can help. Our bankruptcy attorneys have counseled numerous debtors in communities across South Louisiana, including Slidell and New Orleans. We will meet with you and discuss your financial situation to help you determine which bankruptcy proceeding might be right for you and address any questions you have. Please call or fill out our contact form to arrange a consultation with an experienced Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney in Slidell today.