When your debt has become overwhelming, you look for any way to get some relief. Despite your well-paying job, unexpected bills come up, and you can find yourself unable to pay off your creditors. But when you consider your options, you may worry that your income doesn’t qualify for bankruptcy.

However, bankruptcy is meant to help you reset your finances so you can start fresh. Chapter 7 is for those with little to no income. But Chapter 13 offers the protection of bankruptcy while letting those with income pay off debts.

Unexpected bills can make your debt unmanageable

Just because you have a steady income doesn’t mean you can’t seek relief from high debts. Medical bills, family emergencies, unexpected car or house repairs and more can leave you owing more money every month than you can pay.

But to have most of your debt wiped clean in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must pass a means test. If this test says that you make enough money to pay off your debts, a court will deny your filing.

If you have a good income, you can file Chapter 13

Instead, you can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Instead of a Georgia court discharging your debt, you create a three-to-five-year payment plan.

You don’t have to pay each creditor separately. You work with the court to decide how much you can reasonably pay each month. Then you pay a monthly lump sum that the court divides among your creditors.

How Chapter 13 compares to Chapter 7

Like Chapter 7, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy also still offers you protection from creditors with an automatic stay. While you are in the bankruptcy process, they cannot try to contact you to collect what you owe. But unlike Chapter 7, you don’t have to give up any property or cars. Since you’re paying off your lenders, you can keep everything, even if you still owe money.

And if you successfully get through the three to five years, a court can discharge debt left over.

Chapter 13 can help you start over

When you no longer have control over your finances, you can find relief in bankruptcy. And with a Chapter 13, you can work with the court to pay off your debt with a plan that works for you.