If you’re filing for bankruptcy, you might be asking yourself, “Can I actually travel abroad during this critical period?” This post will explore just that! We’ll dive deep into Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies and how they may affect your travel plans. And, if you can’t make it to your vacation right now, rest assured that you can rebuild your credit and take an even better vacation in the future!
Understanding Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13
Filing for bankruptcy can be a life-altering decision. Two common types, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, each come with their own unique processes, timelines, and implications.
The Process of Filing for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
To start the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you need to complete initial paperwork that includes an exhaustive list of your current debts. It’s not a walk in the park but think about it like spring cleaning – exhausting yet satisfying once done.
This type is also known as liquidation or straight bankruptcy because most debts get wiped out after your non-exempt property has been sold off. You’re essentially hitting the reset button on your financial life.
The Timeline of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
A typical timeline for a Chapter 7 case takes around three to four months in New York – though it can take longer. This isn’t exactly a weekend project but more like training for and running a half marathon – lengthy but finite.
You have key milestones such as credit counseling sessions before filing, meeting with creditors (also called ‘341 meetings’) and a waiting period post-filing where creditors can object if they wish so.
Navigating Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
In contrast, when dealing with Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’re essentially creating a court-mandated payment plan to repay most debts. It’s like enrolling in a rigorous financial boot camp that lasts three to five years, but with the ultimate goal of debt relief.
Traveling Abroad During Bankruptcy Proceedings
Bankruptcy filings are complex and require careful navigation. When you throw in the added element of international travel, things can get tricky.
Legal Considerations When Traveling Abroad During Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy doesn’t put a stop to your life; it’s not an anchor holding you back from exploring new horizons. But it does demand certain obligations, including not racking up more debt. Remember, you are filing paperwork that shows that you can’t afford to pay back your creditors. Therefore, you shouldn’t be able to afford an expensive vacation either.
That being said, if you planned a vacation years ago and it’s already paid for, you may be able to prove your case and still go on your trip. However, there is the chance that your trustee could say that you’re acting in bad faith, creating issues with your filing. Furthermore, even if your trip is nonrefundable, any spending you do while away is at risk of not being discharged. And if you use credit cards, this will certainly raise red flags.
If you do choose to travel, make sure that you don’t miss any meetings due to your vacation. And if you have refundable airline tickets, be prepared to surrender them to pay your creditors. You are better off driving, especially if someone else offers to pay for the gas.
All in all, traveling during bankruptcy isn’t a good idea, though there are certain situations where it can be done. Keep in mind that any luxury goods or services paid for within 90 days of your filing can be considered fraud, as you know you can’t afford them. Even if your hotel and flight are paid for, there are many other costs you are likely to incur on your vacation, which can compromise your case.
If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’re better off rescheduling your travel plans. Unless the trip is nonrefundable and you can prove that you paid for it when you were able to afford to. Fortunately, once your bankruptcy case is closed (around 3-4) months, you can start rebuilding your credit and working towards a new vacation. Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings are a bit different, and it’s easier to travel right away, as long as you are making your court-mandated monthly payments.
To schedule a free consultation with The Law Office of William Waldner, contact us today. We can determine which type of bankruptcy is right for you, as well as your options for traveling.