January 23, 2021

Can I Convert From Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to Chapter 7?

Sometimes debtors file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy but then realize that they should have filed for Chapter 7.

When you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will be repaying all or a portion of your debt by making installments to the Chapter 13 Trustee that have been outlined in the payment plan and approved by the bankruptcy court. The Trustee is then responsible for paying the creditors that you owed. Sometimes debtors that have filed for Chapter 13 realize that they are unable to make their plan payments, or cannot make car or mortgage payments once the plan has begun.

If this is the case, as long as your bankruptcy case has not been converted before, it is your legal right to try and convert from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Here are several things you will need to do in order to convert to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

You will need to take the “Means Test” again, which the court will use to determine if you qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy by evaluating your financial information such as your income, debts, and expenses. If you pass the means test you will need to then file a “Notice of Conversion,” which costs a fee, with the bankruptcy court. The Trustee will then be in charge of determining if you are eligible to convert to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Because bankruptcy laws are very complex and constantly changing, I recommend speaking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to assist you through the Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 conversion process.


Jonathan Ginsberg has been in private law practice since 1987. He writes and teaches about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection.