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How Flexible is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Before filing for bankruptcy, it is crucial to understand all the facts. Since you may not be an expert in bankruptcy law, the questions you might have about the process have answers that are anything but clear. Not only are there different types of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, but there are also significant differences between the two.

One of the most common questions about Chapter 13 bankruptcy is what happens if your financial situation changes during the duration of the plan? After all, a Chapter 13 plan typically runs between three to five years and there are a lot of things that can happen in that period of time. What happens if you or your spouse lose a job, get sick or in an accident and incur medical expenses, or have a change in family size?

Fortunately, Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers a great deal of flexibility in the event of a change of income or expenses during the duration of the plan. Many times the court can agree to modify your plan to make it work. This often involves a lowering of monthly payments which debtors are obligated to pay.

Other times, the changes may need to be made even before a first payment is sent. Sometimes debtors are still unable to pay their mortgage even with the restructuring of their debt in Chapter 13. In cases like this, an amendment is necessary. If the situation that you are experiencing is only a short-term problem, the court may grant a moratorium in payments if it will allow you an opportunity to recover from an illness, one-time expense, or some other temporary cash flow problem.

If your situation changes significantly for the worse, Chapter 13 has what is called a “hardship discharge”. This happens when a Chapter 13 plan is confirmed but circumstances come up that prevent the debtor from completing the plan. However, there are qualifications for a hardship discharge which make it available only if: the failure to pay comes from circumstances beyond the debtor’s control, creditors have received at least as much money as they would have received under Chapter 7 where assets are liquidated, and if modification of the plan is impossible.

If you are seriously considering bankruptcy and you live in Louisiana, you need to consult with a Louisiana bankruptcy attorney. While the process is complicated, they will be able to help you understand your options and help you avoid making bad decisions that you could later regret. Isn't it time you got rid of all that debt - for good? Get in touch with a top Louisiana bankruptcy attorney who knows how to get the job done quickly and effectively. Contact Kirkpatrick and Associates at 504-702-1575 for a free consultation.