Can Someone in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Get a Passport?

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Debtors file for chapter 13 bankruptcy to obtain a fresh financial start by reorganizing and repaying their debts. Filing for bankruptcy doesn't make you ineligible for obtaining a U.S. passport. However, falling behind in child support payments can result in the denial of your passport application.

Chapter 13 Overview

A chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding is a popular option for debtors. It allows them to enter into a repayment plan that lasts from three to five years. Unlike in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case, debtors are not required to give up any assets. Instead, they pay as much of their disposable income as possible over the duration of the plan. Any eligible debts remaining unpaid when the plan period ends are typically discharged, and the debtor is no longer responsible for them.

Read More: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Explained

Eligibility for a Passport

In general, filing for, and participating in, chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn't prohibit a debtor from getting a passport. But a passport may be denied to a debtor prior to the bankruptcy filing if he is past due on child support payments.

When the debtor files for chapter 13 bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect prohibiting creditors from pursuing debt collection while the bankruptcy is underway. However, a parent with $2,500 or more in child support arrears will be denied a U.S. passport. Child support arrears are not dischargeable in bankruptcy and are considered a priority debt that must be paid through a Chapter 13 plan. The bankruptcy notwithstanding, until the arrears are paid down below $2,500, the debtor cannot obtain a passport.

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About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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