The procedure to get the chapter 13 bankruptcy case filed with the court mirrors that for chapter 7. It differs in that we draft a payment plan and you commence monthly payments to a trustee after the case is filed.
Here’s the typical process in a 13-step nutshell:
1. Contact Us: Your initial consultation is free of charge. Consulting a bankruptcy attorney is not a difficult thing, but it’s a big first step to financial recovery. If Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is your best option, then we hit the ground running.
2. Retainer: Once retained, we are here for YOU. We respond immediately to any question, big or small. We’re charged with representing your rights and ensuring a successful outcome. Creditor calls bugging you? No problem. Give them our number.
3. What’s Up, Docs? We’ll need some documentation (tax returns, pay advices, payoff statements and other paperwork that’s readily available and at your disposal).
4. School’s NOT Out For Summer: When ready, you’ll complete a brief, 1-2/hr credit counseling class online. It’s a standard bankruptcy requirement.
5. Petition Draft and Filing: Based on analysis of materials and information you provide, we draft your bankruptcy petition and your chapter 13 plan (which states the amount of your monthly payment). Upon careful joint review and your approval, it’s filed with the bankruptcy court. The chapter 13 bankruptcy plan provides for 36 to 60 monthly payments that generally total a small fraction of your debt. When the chapter 13 plan is done, the remaining unpaid balance gets discharged (forgiven).
6. After Filing: Once we file your chapter 13 bankruptcy case, an automatic stay (stop) goes into effect: the stay halts all collections, repossessions and foreclosures.
7. Payments: After filing, you start monthly payments in the amount stated in the chapter 13 plan. These are paid to a chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee, who distributes the funds among your creditors. Learn more on the payment amount here.
8. Lien Strip (NOT a Skinny Burlesque): If doing a lien strip in your chapter 13 bankruptcy (removing a second mortgage on depreciated real property), then your bankruptcy attorney files an appropriate motion with the court and serves the holder of the lien at various legal addresses. Motions can also be filed to avoid (remove) judgment liens that impair your real property.
9. School’s NOT Out Forever: After your chapter 13 bankruptcy is filed, you need to complete a second brief online class in financial management.
10. A So-Called Meeting of Creditors: This is a brief interview with the chapter 13 trustee. Your bankruptcy attorney will represent you there; creditors generally don’t appear. The chapter 13 trustee will have you swear under oath that the information in the paperwork we’d filed is true and correct. Typically the meeting takes a few minutes, with routine inquiries made into your rate of income and other financial affairs. You’ll be fully prepared to address all questions.
11. Confirmation: the next step is to get your chapter 13 bankruptcy plan “confirmed” or approved by the bankruptcy court. Confirmation means the monthly payment amount in your chapter 13 plan is finalized.
12. Advocacy: Consistent with your income and expenses, it’s the chapter 13 trustee’s job to have you pay as much as possible into the plan. It’s your San Diego bankruptcy attorney’s task to ensure you pay the bare minimum. To successfully and timely confirm your plan, we work in earnest and argue before the bankruptcy court to resolve any demands for increased payment. Pending confirmation, you’re kept fully apprised, while remaining under bankruptcy protection from all your creditors.
13. In the End: At the end of your 36- to 60-month chapter 13 payment plan, you’ll receive your order of discharge from the bankruptcy court. This means the unpaid balances on dischargeable debts are forgiven. Exceptions apply to cancellation of debt .
Of course, the crux of a chapter 13 bankruptcy is the amount of the monthly payment. To learn more, read our section on payment plans here.