Chapter 13 bankruptcy
is a consolidation of debts into one repayment plan and allows an individual to reorganize debts and to pay the unsecured debt without any further interest accumulating. It also protects the debtor from creditors while the debt is being paid off. Unlike Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 petition does not ask for an immediate discharge of debts. Instead, he or she offers a plan to repay at least part of those debts over a period of time, usually three to five years, depending on the debtor's disposable income. While a Chapter 13 plan is in place, the debtor is protected from lawsuits, garnishments, and other creditor action. The Chapter 13 debtor's plan must be approved by the bankruptcy court. A person who files Chapter 13 bankruptcy remains in bankruptcy until all of the payments in the plan have been made, and the judge issues a discharge of the debts.