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Are you experiencing financial hardship in Georgia and considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy to eliminate your debt? Perhaps the Chapter 7 Means Test Calculator concluded that you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but your assets exceed Georgia’s bankruptcy exemption limits.

Firstly, filing Chapter 13 is a big decision. You are committing to a bankruptcy repayment plan that could last for up to five years.  This is why understanding the bankruptcy differences and understanding your Chapter 13 plan payment is crucial to making the most informed decision. Let’s get started.

Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13 in Georgia

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often referred to as “liquidation” bankruptcy because it liquidates non-exempt assets to meet debt obligations. The remaining debt balance is discharged or forgiven. However, not everyone is eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 filers must meet income requirements. A Chapter 7 trustee also analyzes the debtor’s (person filing for bankruptcy) property for potential sale at a bankruptcy auction. Sale proceeds go towards settling the debtor’s unsecured creditors. In assessing whether a chapter 7 bankruptcy in Georgia is right for you, check out the bankruptcy means test Georgia first.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy restructures your debts into a bankruptcy repayment plan. The IRS describes a Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a voluntary reorganization of debt for individuals. 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 of the debt. Once you complete your Chapter 13 plan, these debts are discharged or forgiven.

Calculating Chapter 13 Plan Payment in Georgia

What is a Chapter 13 plan payment in Georgia?

One of the most important things for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is to understand your Chapter 13 plan payment. For example, will you be able to afford your new monthly payment and will that monthly payment provide relief from your current monthly payment?

Thankfully, how you calculate the estimated Chapter 13 plan payment is mostly form-based, which we incorporate into the Chapter 13 calculators below. The Quick estimate uses the Chapter 13 Calculation of Disposable Income. That is to say, your disposable income will go towards the plan for most Chapter 13 cases. On the other hand, the Precise estimate uses the Chapter 13 Calculation of Disposable Income and both Schedule I (Income) and Schedule J (expenses).

How is the Georgia Chapter 13 plan payment calculated?

Georgia Chapter 13 plan payments depend on several factors. For example,

  • Mortgage Arrearage — You must catch up on the balance of past due mortgage payments to keep your house in Chapter 13. In addition, you also must pay your normal mortgage payments outside of the plan.
  • Car Loans — You may have several options for paying a car loan. One such option includes lowering your car loan payments, assuming you meet requirements. 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. For example, 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 equivalent to your disposable income to your unsecured creditors. 

Not all debts can be satisfied through bankruptcy. Priority unsecured debts that must be paid in full for both Chapter 13 or Chapter 7 include alimony, child support, and most taxes. You must also pay any back mortgage payments in full if you want to keep your home. However, a Chapter 13 plan allows you to repay these debts in full over three to five years.

Bankruptcy also stops foreclosures, repossessions, wage garnishments, and debt-collection lawsuits. Therefore, Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep your home and your vehicle by giving you time to catch up on the payments. For more about the Chapter 13 process, read our Guide to Chapter 13.

Georgia Means Test for Chapter 7

The Chapter 13 Means Test is a bankruptcy form used to calculate your average income and your disposable income. To clarify, disposable income is the amount of money left over each month after paying allowable living expenses. In addition, the information in the Means Test serves as the basis to calculate your Chapter 13 plan payment.

Means Test Calculator

All income during the past six months is used to calculate your average monthly income (AMI). Income used for the Means Test includes, but is not limited to, income from wages, salaries, commissions, businesses, rentals, domestic support payments, interest, pensions, retirement income, and other earned income. Income outlined in the Social Security Act, however, is not included in the Means Test. Your average monthly income is multiplied by 12 to calculate your annual average median income.  For ease, use our simple calculator below to roughly determine your average monthly income. Then, compare this to Georgia’s median income listed in the table below. Another option is to use our Chapter 7 Calculator to perform a more precise calculation.

The Means Test compares your average median income to the average income for households of your size in Georgia. The figures for the Means Test are adjusted based on current information from the Internal Revenue Service and the Census Bureau. The latest Georgia Means Test data adjustments are valid for bankruptcies filed on or after May 15, 2021. Make sure you use the most current figures when completing the Means Test.

# of PeopleAnnual Income

For households with more than 9 members, add $9,000 per person to the median income. 

If your median income is more than the Georgia median income level, your only bankruptcy option is a five-year Chapter 13 plan. If your median income is below the state median income level, you may qualify for a three-year bankruptcy plan instead. However, you may opt for a five-year plan to reduce and stretch out your payments.

Georgia Bankruptcy Exemptions 

Bankruptcy exemptions protect the net equity in your property from being used to increase your Chapter 13 plan payment. Georgia has opted out of the federal bankruptcy exemptions. If you have resided in Georgia for at least 730 days before filing your Chapter 13 petition, you must use Georgia bankruptcy exemptions.

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. In addition, 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.

Where are Georgia Bankruptcy Courts Located?

Because Georgia is a large state with a high population, the state is divided into three bankruptcy districts. You may learn more about the three districts below.

Your county of residence determines the district and division your bankruptcy case is filed.

Who are the Georgia Chapter 13 Trustees?

Chapter 13 trustees are assigned to each of the three bankruptcy districts in Georgia. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy trustee administers the bankruptcy estate. The trustee reviews all bankruptcy forms reviews bankruptcy claims, receives bankruptcy payments, and pays creditors.

The Georgia Chapter 13 trustees are:

MiddleCamille Hope(478) 742-8706
MiddleAnne Kristin Hurst(706) 327-4151
NorthernMelissa J. Davey(678) 510-1444
NorthernMary Ida Townson(404) 525-1110
NorthernNancy J. Whaley(678) 992-1201
SouthernHuon Le(706) 722-5511
SouthernMarie Elaina Massey(912) 466-9787
SouthernO. Byron Meredith(912) 234-5052

Common Georgia Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Questions

Below we have tried to tackle some of the more common questions that you may have about filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What is a Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney Fee?

It depends. A Georgia bankruptcy attorney may charge different amounts based on the following factors. Please see the Georgia Bankruptcy Attorney Fees article for more information and use the calculator to estimate the cost in your area in Georgia.

  1. Type of Bankruptcy
  2. Complexity of bankruptcy
  3. Location of attorney in Georgia
  4. Attorney expertise
  5. Amount of attorney interaction

How much does it cost to file a Chapter 13 in Georgia?

The cost to file a Chapter 13 in Georgia is $310. This $310 fee includes a $235 filing fee and a $75 administrative fee. Below shows the fee breakdown. This does not include attorney fees. Attorney fees can range up to $4,000 – $5,000. These fees are often included in the monthly payment plan.

How do I file Chapter 13 in Georgia?

You have to complete the following steps to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Georgia.

  1. Determine which bankruptcy type is best for you.
  2. Determine whether to hire an attorney.
  3. Complete Your Credit Counseling Course
  4. Complete the Remaining Bankruptcy Forms
  5. Calculate Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Plan
  6. Filing Your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case
  7. Assignment of Trustee and 341 Hearing
  8. Confirmation Hearing
  9. Complete Your Debtor Education Course
  10. Continue Making Your Chapter 13 Payments

Source: How To File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

How often can you file Chapter 13 in Georgia?

You are able to file for another Chapter 13 bankruptcy 2 years after your last Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge. You can also see how often you can file for other bankruptcy types by learning more about the 2-4-6-8 rule.

Do I Have Alternatives to Filing Chapter 13?

Yes. You may qualify to file under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code if you meet income requirements. However, if you want to save your home from foreclosure, owe more on your car loan than your car is worth, have non-exempt property, or owe debts that are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, a Georgia Chapter 13 bankruptcy case may be your best bankruptcy option. The video below summarizes a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Georgia.

However, bankruptcy may not be your only debt relief option. You might also want to explore debt settlement or debt consolidation. Ascend has a Guide to Debt Settlement and a Guide to Debt Consolidation that provides information about these two types of debt relief.

In addition, if you want to explore alternatives to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, use the debt relief comparison calculator below. Please note that if you have taken the Chapter 13 calculator above, there are many similarities, so it may not make sense to take this calculator.

Finally, if you like to see things visually, you may be interested to view a summarized version of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy Georgia video below.  If you have questions about bankruptcy and debt-relief options, contact Ascend. We provide resources and information to help you explore your options and choose a debt-relief option that is right for you.

Post Author: Ben Tejes

Ben Tejes is a co-founder and CEO of Ascend Finance. Before Ascend, Ben held various executive roles at personal finance companies. Ben specializes in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Debt Settlement, Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and debt payoff methods. In his free time, Ben enjoys spending time going on adventures with his wife and three young daughters.

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