Here's how Chapter 13 bankruptcy generally works: You keep your property and repay some or all of your debts through a repayment plan which lasts for three or five years. How much you pay on a given debt depends on a number of factors. Secured debts are treated differently than unsecured debts. Usually, you pay only a portion of your unsecured debts through your plan -- the remainder is discharged at the end of your bankruptcy. Bankruptcy law also assigns priority to some debts, so that you must pay them first and in full.