Are There Different Forms of Personal Bankruptcy, and If So, How Do They Work?

The two most common forms of personal bankruptcy are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

In Chapter 7, the goal is to discharge most or all debts without paying creditors. However, a Chapter 7 does not force a mortgage holder or auto lender to give you additional time to catch up on payments. In addition, some kinds of debts, like child support, alimony, student loans and some taxes, are not discharged in Chapter 7.

Another option is Chapter 13, which gives you an opportunity to pay back some of your debts over time. It is most often used to give you time to bring past-due payments on a mortgage or car loan current, or when you have property that you want to keep.

If your debts are very large, you operate a business that has financial problems, or your financial situation is very complicated, you may need to consider the form of bankruptcy known as Chapter 11.