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Can I choose the bankruptcy I want?

If you're considering a bankruptcy, it can feel overwhelming. This is a reasonable response to overwhelming debt, but not a helpful way to move forward. For many people, simply choosing a type of bankruptcy is a stumbling block in the path to a financial clean slate. For private individuals, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies both offer financial relief, but do so in very different ways. Depending on the nature of your debt and other factors in your financial life, you may qualify for either or both. So how does a person choose between them?

There is no "right" bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not a thing with a value judgment like that, it is a function of the law that whole intends to offer relief without judgment, in fact. However, it is highly probable that your circumstances indicate you should favor one over the other. Of course, understanding which one is best for you takes time and a nuanced understanding of the law and your own financial life.

Chapter 7 is generally considered the most common type of bankruptcy, and usually offers greater relief than Chapter 13. However, if a person does qualify for Chapter 13, it may actually create a better structure for rebuilding a financial life. There are so many variables from person to person that it is impossible to know without some granular understanding of the law and your own finances.

If, however, you do qualify for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you are perfectly free to choose the one you prefer. It is wise in these cases to consult with an experienced attorney who can help you work through your circumstances and choose the best fit. A sloppy bankruptcy can cause far more problems for the user than not using bankruptcy at all.

Source: Findlaw, "Bankruptcy: Frequently Asked Questions," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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