If you meet the requirements for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, then you may pick whichever way you want to file. If you only meet the criteria for one, then you must file for that particular type of bankruptcy if you choose to file.
Generally, folks who have substantial income will not qualify for Chapter 7. The income limits vary depending on the median income across the state. In North Carolina, the median income for a single earner was $41,590 as of May 2016. If a married couple carries joint debt and intends to file jointly for bankruptcy, the median income as of the same time period is $53,278. Those earning more than the state's median income will not qualify for Chapter 7. To check the current income levels provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, visit the Census Bureau Means Testing site and select your desired dates.
Individuals whose debt exceeds a certain amount will not qualify for Chapter 13. The debt limit qualifiers for Chapter 13 change every few years. As of this writing, individuals will not qualify if their secured debts are in excess of $1,149,925 and unsecured debts are in excess of $383,175. Learn about the differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies.