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Get More Time to Pay Off Debts with Chapter 13 in Florida
Under federal law, there are a lot of different forms of bankruptcy available to different parties. However, private citizens generally have two options: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharges debts, but often forces you to sell off any assets on which you still owe money. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, restructures your debt to give you more time to pay it off.
There are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify for Chapter 13 in Florida, and deciding to file for this type of bankruptcy should never be taken lightly. There may be other options that are better suited for your situation that will have a lighter impact on your credit score and the rest of your life.
A Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney in Florida can help you examine all of your legal options to help you through this difficult time in your life. If you and your attorney decide that filing for bankruptcy is the best option, your lawyer can help you collect the proper documentation and file the right forms to make sure the process goes smoothly. If there are any issues, an experienced lawyer can make sure those issues are taken care of quickly and efficiently.
At Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our legal team has helped members of our Treasure Coast community file for Chapter 13 in Florida for over 30 years. We know how distressing this time in your life can be, and our goal is to help the bankruptcy process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
To speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you file Chapter 13 in Florida and explore any other possible options to manage your debt, call us at 866-460-1990 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
The Basics of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Florida
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as wage earner’s bankruptcy. Essentially, Chapter 13 allows you to make arrangements with your creditors to pay off your debts within a certain amount of time, usually three to five years. Unlike with Chapter 7, you generally aren’t required to sell off your assets to pay your debts, so long as you make your scheduled payments.
However, there are requirements for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. First, you must have steady income. You have to show the court that you can afford your repayment plan, in addition to your monthly household obligations. If your income is considered too low or too irregular, the court likely won’t allow you to file for Chapter 13 in Florida.
Secondly, there are debt limits you must meet. These values are subject to change, but currently, the limit on secured debts is $1,184,200, and the limit on unsecured debts is $394,725. If you have debts exceeding these amounts, you likely won’t be eligible for Chapter 13 relief. Secured debts are those that have physical collateral, such as car notes or home mortgages. Unsecured debts, such as credit card balances, don’t have collateral.
Finally, you cannot file Chapter 13 on behalf of a business. This form of bankruptcy can only be used by individuals. However, if you are a small business owner and are personally responsible for certain business debts, such as loans taken out in your own name for the business, those debts can potentially be included in Chapter 13 proceedings.
Types of Debt Included in Chapter 13 Payment Plans
Chapter 13 plans organize your debts into a few different categories. Some common categories include:
- Priority debts, including child support, alimony, tax obligations, criminal fines and more, which must be paid in full over the course of the plan.
- Secured debt, which will most likely need to be paid as part of your plan if you want to keep the collateral to which these debts are attached.
- Unsecured debt must be paid with any leftover disposable income you have after paying priority and secured debts. By the end of your plan, you may not have paid off unsecured debts in full, but you must show you’re putting any remaining income toward doing so.
- Nonexempt property includes any property you can’t afford to keep, but aren’t protected by exemptions under Florida law. You must pay the value of unprotected property.
In most cases, you will have five years to repay your debt. However, the time limit of your plan will depend on your income level. There is a three-year plan for those who qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but choose Chapter 13 instead. A person may choose to do so if they don’t want to lose their car or house. Regardless, the five-year plan provides much lower monthly payments, making it more likely to be accepted by the court.
Where to File for Chapter 13 on the Treasure Coast
If you are planning to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Okeechobee or Vero Beach, you will most likely go to the courthouse for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach. The address for the courthouse follows:
Flagler Waterview Building
1515 North Flagler Drive, Suite 801
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
What Happens if You Can’t Make Payments for Chapter 13 in Florida
When your Chapter 13 plan is initially confirmed, or accepted, by the court, it will be done so based on your current income and financial situation. But during the three to five years of your plan, your situation could change. You may have a child, you could lose your job, or you might suddenly incur massive medical bills.
If you suddenly find yourself with less income, you may be able to modify your plan to pay a lower amount toward your plan every month. If, on the other hand, you get laid off or become disabled, you may be able to get your debts discharged because of hardship.
In some cases, neither of these options are available. In these cases, you may be able to convert your Chapter 13 plan to Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy filing lets you discharge most, if not all, of your debts. However, doing so will likely mean you will lose your nonexempt property.
The very last option if you struggle with meeting your payment plan is to have your Chapter 13 case dismissed. However, this option leaves you responsible for your outstanding debts, in addition to any interest that went uncharged when your bankruptcy case was active. This may mean creditors insisting you pay your outstanding debts immediately.
Get Help with Chapter 13 in Florida Today
It’s important to note that Chapter 13 bankruptcy has consequences. It will deeply impact your credit score for no more than seven years. However, this is better than Chapter 7, which stays on your credit score for no longer than 10 years.
Filing for Chapter 13 in Florida is a complex process. There are classes you must undertake, filing fees that must be paid, and evidence that must be shown in order to qualify. That’s why it’s so important to speak with an experienced lawyer if you’re considering filing for Chapter 13 along the Treasure Coast.
For over 30 Years, at Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd, our experienced bankruptcy lawyers have been helping members of our community to explore all of their options when they find themselves in financial trouble. If you’re considering Chapter 13 in Florida, call us at 866-460-1990 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation today.
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