Every homeowner wants to pay their mortgage on time. But things can happen to us that cause financial trouble and make it difficult to stay out of problem debt. Illness, divorce, job losses and business problems are examples of hardships that can lead to missed mortgage payments and fears about foreclosure.

Some individuals and families can use Chapter 13 bankruptcy to avoid the loss of their home and get caught up on missed mortgage payments. Are you one of these people?

How many payments have you missed?

Missed house payments are always anxiety triggering. In Tennessee, the foreclosure process is shorter than in other states, but it’s a process that takes several months, not an “oops”-type one-time event. The lender can’t take your home without going through a series of procedures that take time and specific kinds of notice.

If you’re more than a month behind on your mortgage and you don’t think you can catch up on your own, it’s time to look at debt relief options, which could include bankruptcy. But if there’s no “sheriff’s sale” date scheduled in the immediate future, you have time to find a solution. Even if the foreclosure sale is in a week or two, you may still be able to stop it with an emergency Chapter 13 filing, which will provide an affordable payment plan to make up what you owe.

Does the bank even want my house?

That depends on a few things. If you have a relatively small mortgage or you have paid down your mortgage so that your house has significant equity in it, then it will be more desirable to a mortgage company, which exists for the purpose of making money for itself.

Either way, it stinks to be threatened and treated poorly by your mortgage lender or servicer, who may be extremely uncooperative and disorganized in responding to your requests for workout options. (You may have figured out by now that your mortgage lender doesn’t actually care about you.)

Get the help you need

It’s horrible to be afraid of losing your home. You need to do something if that fear is based on actual missed mortgage payments.

Every situation is different. Bankruptcy is not right for everyone, but you should find out if Chapter 13 could solve your mortgage problem.