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What type of bankruptcy is most common?

You have heard of people declaring bankruptcy, and you think that may be your best course of action considering your outstanding debt, but you have never done it before. You're wondering what your options are and what types of bankruptcy -- called "chapters" -- people use the most.

To help you see how it tends to pan out, here are the numbers from 2016, in order from least to most:

  • Total cases filed during the year: 794,960
  • Chapter 12 filings: 461
  • Chapter 11 filings: 7,292
  • Chapter 13 filings: 296,655
  • Chapter 7 filings: 490,365

As you can see, it is far more likely that filings will be either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 than anything else. Even though both of those categories dwarf the other two -- Chapter 12 and Chapter 11 -- there is still a clear leader between them. Chapter 7 filings are nearly twice as common as Chapter 13.

The difference between the two is simple. With Chapter 7, you liquidate your assets. This provides some capital, which you then use to pay down your debt. When you have done everything you can, the court forgives the rest of the debt.

With Chapter 13, however, you get a repayment plan that you need to follow. Usually, it is going to last between three and five years. This can reduce your total debt, and it eliminates it entirely when you make your monthly payments until the end of the term. You do need to earn a consistent wage for this to work.

No matter what type of bankruptcy you decide to use, make sure you understand what legal steps to take.

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