Indiana consumer bankruptcies fall faster than U.S. average

Personal bankruptcy filings due to consumer debt tumbled in Indiana last year at a much faster pace than an overall national decline, according to federal bankruptcy court data released Monday.

Hoosiers filed a combined 7.4 percent fewer petitions for Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2017. Filings in the Southern District, which includes courts in Indianapolis, Evansville, New Albany and Terre Haute, fell 8.6 percent last year. In the Northern District, with courts in Hammond, Fort Wayne, Lafayette and South Bend, the pace of bankruptcy case openings fell by 5.5 percent.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts on Monday released an annual statistical report required by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. Among its findings:

• Nationwide, 1 percent fewer bankruptcy cases were filed — more than 740,000 petitions in all. In Indiana, a total of 24,106 cases opened last year, down from 26,034 in 2016.

• About 39 percent of bankruptcies opened nationally were filed under Chapter 13, compared to about 31 percent in Indiana. Under Chapter 13, people with regular income and debts below a certain threshold repay creditors in installments through a court-approved plan.

• Chapter 7 cases, which do not involve a plan, resolved faster in Indiana than the national average. The median time for these cases from filing to resolution was 113 days in the Southern District and 125 days in the Northern District compared the national median of 114 days.

• Indiana was close to the national median in terms of bankruptcy filers’ median income and expenses. Overall in the Northern District, filers had a median monthly income of $2,762 and median expenses of $2,423. In the Southern District, median income for those filing for bankruptcy was $2,819 and median expenses were $2,471.

The statistics reflect a continuing trend of declining bankruptcy filings dating back to a peak in 2010.

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