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Understanding the Difference Between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Your rights are very different depending on whether you file a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy. In a chapter 7 bankruptcy (called a “liquidation”), you eliminate most of your debts, but may lose your property other than “exempt” property—that is property the law says creditors cannot reach unless they take that property as collateral. For many families most of their property is exempt. In a chapter 13 case (called a “reorganization”), you keep all your property, and pay a portion or all of your debts in installments over a period of three to five years.