Because Chapter 13 functions as a form of personal financial rehabilitation, you are required to submit a detailed plan of debt repayment shortly after filing your case. Your Chapter 13 plan sets out which creditors are to be paid, how much they will receive each month and when their repayment starts.
The Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Georgia uses a standard form Chapter 13 plan. Because the plans filed in every case in our district looks the same, it makes the plan evaluation process run smoother. If you should ever speak to an attorney who is not familiar with the plan format used in the Northern District of Georgia, you should probably look for another lawyer.
The plan you file at the beginning of your case is only your proposed plan. The trustee and creditors are not bound to accept it and, in most cases, you and your attorney will need to amend your plan to resolve objections that will likely be filed by the trustee and creditors. If you reach an impasse regarding these objections, you may need to argue unresolved issues before the judge at the confirmation hearing of your plan.
Usually most objections to confirmation can be resolved out of court and about two months after your case is filed, it will be formally approved, or confirmed, by the judge.
The confirmation of your plan does not mean that your work is done. Once your case is confirmed, you will be subject to the terms of your confirmed plan. If you fulfill your objections (especially funding), you will be on your road to getting your Chapter 13 discharge. You continue to have a number of responsibilities to the court after confirmation. These include:
- funding your plan – you are responsible for making your trustee payment regardless of whether your case is set up as a payroll deduction case
- updating the court about any changes of address
- updating the court about any changes of income or expenses
- cooperating with your attorney to file any post-confirmation amendments as may be necessary
- notifying the court about any tax refunds received or unexpected receipts of money
- continuing to pay any child support or alimony as it comes due, if applicable
- continuing to pay your mortgage payment directly to the lender, if applicable
- continuing to pay any other direct payments as provided for in your plan
- filing tax returns for each year after confirmation
- obtaining and filing your financial management course certificate
- completing and filing your Section 1328 certificate prior to discharge
Generally, anything you file in your Chapter 13 case will be filed electronically by your lawyer. It is usually not a good idea to communicate directly with the trustee or judge.