Chapter 13 bankruptcies have a minimum commitment period of three years and a maximum of five years. This means that the repayment plan in a Chapter 13 will last somewhere between three and five years. A number of considerations determine this.
The first consideration is whether a debtor is below or above the median income. The median income is the median income for the household size of the debtor in the state the debtor lives in. If the debtor is below the median income, the debtor can elect a three-year plan. If the debtor is above the median income, then the debtor must have a five-year plan.
If the debtor is below the median income, the debtor may choose to enter a repayment plan that lasts longer than three years. For example, if the debtor is filing a Chapter 13 in order to pay mortgage arrears and stop a foreclosure, then debtor may elect to file a five-year plan. The debtor may choose this to keep the payment in the Chapter 13 more affordable. All mortgage arrears must be paid back in full over the course of the plan. Stretching the plan over 5 years would allow for a lower payment in some circumstances. The debtor could also elect to have the plan duration be any number of months between 36 (three years) or 60 (five years).