How do I know if I'm eligible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia?

Most people who want to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy will discover that they are eligible to do so. This is much different than Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which has strict guidelines when it comes to qualifying. There are just a few major requirements when it comes to figuring out whether or not you can file for Virginia Chapter 13 bankruptcy:

You must have a reliable, steady source of income.

The whole principle of Chapter 13 bankruptcy is making a regular monthly payment over three to five years. You must have enough income to pay your regular living expenses as well as the payment to the bankruptcy court. When determining if you qualify for Chapter 13, your bankruptcy lawyer must review how much you pay for necessities like food and shelter and how much you will have left to pay on your debts. These expenses will be based on where you live in the Tidewater area.

There's a waiting period if you've filed for bankruptcy before.

You are allowed to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if you've filed for bankruptcy before, but there are waiting periods between filings that must be bet in order for you to receive a discharge. If you previously filed for Chapter 13 and received a discharge, you must wait two years from the filing date of the first case to be able to file a second case and receive a discharge; if you previously filed for Chapter 7, 11, or 12, that length of time is extended to four years. If the required time period has not passed since the filing date of the previous case, you may still file a new Chapter 13 case but you will not receive a discharge at the end of your payment plan. These time periods only apply if you received a discharge in the previous case. If the case was dismissed, you may refile at any time unless the earlier case was "dismissed with prejudice".

Debts cannot exceed caps set by the government.

There is a limit to the amount of secured and unsecured debt that you can have if you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The specific amounts increase every year based on the Consumer Price Index. Currently, you can have up to $360,475 in unsecured debts and $1,081,400 in secured debts.

There are other requirements, but these are the primary ones that should help determine if you are eligible to file for Chapter 13. If you'd like to learn more about filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Virginia, contact Hampton Roads Legal Services at 757-276-6555.

Edrie Pfeiffer
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Edrie Pfeiffer, Bankruptcy & Divorce Attorney