WASHINGTON-Bankruptcy filings are steadily rising with no end in sight. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, 2002 was another record-breaking year for bankruptcies. Last calendar year, 1,577,651 bankruptcy filings occurred, up 5.7% from 2001. Prior to that the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2002, held the record with 1,547,669 filings. Non-business filings account for 97.6% of all bankruptcy cases filed in calendar year 2002, totaling 1,539,111. However, business filings fell by 1,559 cases last year. The number of bankruptcies filed during the first quarter fiscal year 2003 (October 1-December 31, 2002) was 395,129, up 8.3% from first quarter fiscal year 2002, but down 1.5% from the last quarter of fiscal year 2002 (October 1, 2001-September 30, 2002). Broken down by chapter, in calendar year 2002, there were 1,109,923 Chapter 7 filings (up 5.2% from 2001); 455,877 Chapter 13 filings (up 7.2%); 11,270 Chapter 11 filings (down 1.3%); and 485 Chapter 12 filings (up 26.6%). Chapter 7 permits filers to keep certain exempt property while the remaining property is sold to repay creditors. Under Chapter 13, creditors may be repaid in installments, in full or in part, over a 3- to 5-year period. Chapter 11 allows businesses to continue operations while reorganizing to repay its creditors. Chapter 12 protects financially distressed family farmers.

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