Can I change between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 after filing?

Bankruptcy law terms changing from one chapter to another a conversion. Common conversions for individuals are from chapter 7 to chapter 13 or from chapter 13 to chapter 7. Cases can be converted to and from other chapters as well, such as chapter 11. The ability of a debtor to convert their case is not unlimited, and varies by chapter.

A conversion from chapter 13 to chapter 7 is probably the most common conversion. A debtor electing such a conversion has decided they are not interested in or able to make the payments required to continue in chapter 13. Sometimes this is because things have not worked out as the debtor hoped. Other times, the debtor has accomplished what they wanted to early in a chapter 13 plan, and wants to expedite the discharge by converting. Under section 1307(a) of the bankruptcy code, debtors may generally convert to chapter 7 from chapter 13 at any time. This reflects the fundamentally voluntary nature of paying debts using earnings from labor in a chapter 13 case.

Conversion from chapter 7 to chapter 13 is also routinely done by debtors. Most frequently such a conversion is accomplished to avoid the sale of some item of property by instead paying its value through a chapter 13 plan. Under section 706(a), debtors can elect such a conversion unless their case had previously been converted into chapter 7.

While the statutory language of the conversion provisions grants debtors rights to convert, the US Supreme Court has made it clear those rights are not absolute. In Marrama, the Court found that bankruptcy courts could deny conversion when debtors acted in bad faith or with fraudulent intentions.

A bankruptcy case cannot be converted from chapter 7 to chapter 13 without the debtor's consent. Bankruptcy cases can be converted from chapter 13 to chapter 7 on motion from another party with notice to the debtor and a hearing.

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