Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Georgia: What You Need to Know

Learn About Filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Georgia

Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7: Which One is For You?

Chapter 13 and 7 bankruptcy are completely different. Which one you choose depends on what financial issues you have.

Your Credit Score and Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy and what is does to your credit is the number one questions consumers have about bankruptcy.

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How Does a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Georgia Work?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a debt consolidation and repayment plan under the protection of the federal courts. Don’t believe what some people say about Chapter 13, for many Georgia consumers, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best choice for dealing with their debt.

Meet with Lawyer to Review Options

The first step is to schedule a free consultation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to review your specific case and options. There is no one size fits all solution so make sure you get a personalized case review.

Complete Pre-Filing Credit Counseling Course

Once you decide to file for bankruptcy you will need to complete pre-filing bankruptcy course. This course can be done online or by phone and usually only takes about 30 minutes to complete. You cannot file your case without it.

Review and Sign Off On Your Paperwork

After your attorney has reviewed your case they will provide you a petition to review and sign.  This is the legal document that lists all your debts, assets, monthly budget, and household size.

Attend Your Court Hearing

Once your case has been filed you will be assigned a trustee, court date, and time. The 341 Meeting of Creditors last about 15 minutes and is a mandatory requirement. You want an attorney there with you.

Chapter 13 Case Approval

After the 341 Meeting of Creditors you will have 30 days to resolve all truste objections. Your case will have one more hearing, confirmation, where the court will approve or deny your case.

Discharge of Case

Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases typically last from 36-60 months. Most people opt for the 60 month plan because it gives them the lowest monthly payment. After all payments are made you receive a discharge from your case.

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How Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Can Help You

Stop Repossession

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop your car company from picking up your car if youu are behind on your car payments. Even if your car has been picked up, bankruptcy can get the car back if you act fast.

Stop Foreclosure

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop your foreclosure schedule in Georgia. It will give you the opportunity to repay your mortgage arrears and restart making regular monthly mortgage payments without the fear of losing your home.

Restructure Child Support

Bankruptcy can take your past due child support and/or alimony payments and let you repay this in your chapter 13 bankruptcy case. It will stop arrest warrant and driver license suspension as soon as your case is filed.

Stop Tax Liens

The IRS and Georgia Department of Revenue can seize your bank account or pay check if you have tax debts owed. Bankruptcy stops them from these actions and allows you to repay these debts through your case without fear of your income being seized.

Remove Junior Mortgages

If you have a second or third mortgage on your home you may be able to “strip” it off and avoid paying it. This bankruptcy option is only available in Chapter 13 and requires additional legal motions. An expert bankruptcy attorney can show you how.

Debt Consolidation

A great feature of filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that it will stop interest from accruing on your unsecured debt. If you have high credit card interest rates filing chapter 13 bankruptcy will stop interest immediately and let you dig out of debt faster.


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Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7

To obtain a bankruptcy discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia, you must meet income requirements to file under Chapter 7. Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are often referred to as “liquidation” bankruptcy cases. A Georgia Chapter 7 trustee analyzes the debtor’s property to determine if the Chapter 7 trustee can sell the property at a bankruptcy auction. The proceeds from the sale are used to pay the debtor’s unsecured creditors.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case consolidates and restructures your debts into a bankruptcy repayment plan. Instead of paying unsecured creditors (i.e. credit card debt, medical bills, and personal loans) the full balance owed on the account, you pay a small percentage (or sometimes nothing) of the debt. Once you complete your Chapter 13 plan, these debts are discharged or forgiven.

You are not able to get rid of some debts in bankruptcy. However, through a Chapter 13 plan, you can repay many of these debts in full over three to five years. Priority unsecured debts that must be paid in full in a Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 case include alimony, child support, and most taxes. You must also pay any back mortgage payments in full if you want to keep your home.

The bankruptcy stops foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, and debt-collection lawsuits. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy case allows you to keep your home and your vehicle by giving you more time to catch up the payments.

Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions

Bankruptcy exemptions protect the net equity in your property from being used to increase your Chapter 13 plan payment.

The exemptions cover a wide variety of property, including, but not limited to, homes, vehicles, clothing, personal property, business equipment, retirement accounts, and health aids. Married couples who file Chapter 13 in Georgia can double the exemption amounts if both spouses own an interest in the property.

Georgia bankruptcy exemptions are found in GA Code §44-13-100. The exemption amounts may be adjusted periodically. Therefore, you must have the most current figures for Georgia bankruptcy exemptions when you begin to calculate your bankruptcy plan.

Figuring out the application of Georgia bankruptcy exemptions is a complex and ever changing area of law and requires the skill of a bankruptcy attorney training in consumer cases.

Where Are The Georgia Bankruptcy Courts Located?

Georgia has divided the state into three different bankruptcy districts. Below is a list of the three bankruptcy districts in Georgia:

Your county of residence in Georgia will determine which district and division your Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy case is filed.

Who is the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee?

When you file for Chapter 13, the court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to administer your case.

The Duties of the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Trustee

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the trustee’s role is to:

  • examine your proposed Chapter 13 repayment plan and make sure it complies with all legal requirements set forth in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C.)
  • ensure that you filed your tax returns for the four years before filing your bankruptcy case
  • receive the payments under the plan
  • distribute plan payments to your creditors in the manner required by law and as set forth in your plan
  • monitor the monthly income and expense reports required in a Chapter 13 case, and
  • if you owe back child support, provide the payee and your state’s child support enforcement agency with updated information
How Chapter 13 Trustee Gets Paid

Chapter 13 trustees keep 7%–10% of the payments they disburse to creditors. When your Georgia Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorney prepares your debt repayment plan make sure you can review this fee and how it is included in your payment plan.

The Chapter 13 Trustee’s Role in Your Case in Georgia

The Chapter 13 trustee will be monitoring your case throughout the plan. Yo uwill be required to submit your annual tax return each year so the trustee can monitor your income. While you are in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case you cannot buy or sell any property without the court’s permission or incur any debt without the court’s permission.  Chapter 13 bankruptcy law in Georgia is very complex and you need to have a highly skilled bankruptcy attorney to get you through your case successfully.

How is the Chapter 13 Repayment Plan Determined?

One of the most important things in your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to understand what your Chapter 13 plan payment will be. Will you be able to afford that monthly payment and will that monthly payment provide relief from your current monthly payment?

Your Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a debt consolidation repayment plan. You will propose a repayment plan (Chapter 13 Plan) to pay back some or all of your debts over a three to five-year period. Calulating your plan and what you can and cannot do with creditors is not a cut and dry “one size fits all” matter.  Every trustee and judge have their own requirements and issues so you need a local Georgia bankruptcy attorney who can write your Chapter 13 correctly.

Unfortunately, any attorney can file a Chapter 13 case however it takes a very skilled one to actually get it approved and the lowest possible cost to you.

A Chapter 13 plan payment depends on other factors, including:

  • where you live
  • your income and expenses
  • whether you own nonexempt property, and
  • the types of debts you have.

How is the Georgia Chapter 13 plan payment calculated?

Georgia Chapter 13 plan payment depends on several factors.

  • Mortgage Arrearage — You must catch up on the balance of past due mortgage payments to keep your house in Chapter 13. You pay your normal mortgage payments outside of the plan.
  • Car Loans — You may have several options for paying a car loan. If you meet certain requirements, you can lower your car loan payments in Chapter 13. Typically, most debtors pay their car loans in full through the Chapter 13 plan to save money.
  • Priority Unsecured Debts — These debts must be paid in full through your Chapter 13 plan. They include back taxes, alimony, child support, most debts owed to the government, restitution, and administrative amounts (amount owed to the Chapter 13 trustee for administering the case).
  • Non-exempt Assets — If any assets have non-exempt equity, you must pay an amount equal to the non-exempt equity to your unsecured creditors.
  • Disposable Income — You must pay an amount equal to your disposable income to your unsecured creditors.
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