Q: I noticed that it costs less to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maryland than a Chapter 7. I don't have a lot of money.
What are the requirements for filing Chapter 13?
A: You need to have a job or other income to be able to repay at least a percentage of your debt to your creditors. Chapter 13 is generally used when you have property you might otherwise lose in a Chapter 7.
David Gormley agrees with this answer
A: Chapter 13 is a payment plan where you pay back some or all of your debt over a 3 to 5 year period. While the filing fee for a 13 is less than the filing fee for a Chapter 7 that does not make it the cheaper option. The attorney's fees are usually more than for a Chapter 7. Along with that you will have to pay back at least some of your debt.
A: When you file your Chapter 7 petition, you can simultaneously file a request to waive the filing fee based on being poor and not having enough income. Your bankruptcy petition will be accepted while the court decides whether to grant your request. If denied, you will be given a time period to pay the fees or your petition will be dismissed. If granted, you're good to go. There are a lot of resources at the courthouse for self-represented litigants, and there is a free consultation with bankruptcy lawyers that you can sign up for to assist you in preparing your forms and filing. You may even qualify for a free or reduced fee lawyer. Most debtors prefer to file Chapter 7, as it wipes out all your debt. The only people who file Chapter 13 are those who have property and assets exceeding $10,000 (usually a lot more than that) which they want to keep, which means they have to make monthly payments over 36-60 months in order to keep the assets. Generally, however, you have $10,000 or more of "exemptions" that protect that dollar amount of your property from your creditors --meaning, you can discharge all you owe and keep your property valued up to that amount. Bankruptcy can be quite complex and confusing to a non-lawyer, and the court clerks and judges cannot help you much, so if you can hire a lawyer or qualify for a free or reduced fee lawyer, try to do so.
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