The terms “Chapter 7” and “Chapter 13” come from the Bankruptcy Code, which is intended to provide financial relief to those who have become consumed by debt. The difference between the two terms concerns the status of the bankrupt individual’s debts following successful litigation. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, also known as “straight bankruptcy,” most types of unsecured debt are eliminated, including medical bills, credit card balances, and personal loans. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, your unsecured debts are consolidated, and you have the option of paying them back without accruing additional interest.
There are several reasons why people decide to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you do not have a great deal of property and find that you are having trouble affording necessities, such as food and clothes, Chapter 7 bankruptcy could be a feasible option. Chapter 7 bankruptcy litigation is usually a far more streamlined process than Chapter 13. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it usually takes only three to six months to complete. Once the process is completed, you are free of debt except for house payments, car payments, student loans, new taxes, and child support balances. Most people also get to keep their property under a Chapter 7 filing, though this is often dependent on the specific filer’s situation.
Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief requires that you turn over all non-exempt property to a trustee. The trustee will then sell the property and use the proceeds to pay your creditors. Once the court filing fees are paid, a bankruptcy judge will discharge your debts — assuming, of course, that you are eligible. Eligibility depends on several factors, including whether or not you have: