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Making Sure to Include All Creditors in a Bankruptcy FilingFailing to list all of your creditors during your bankruptcy case might mean that you cannot discharge the debt, especially if you intentionally omit a creditor. If the case is ongoing, you can amend your bankruptcy Schedules to include an additional creditor. However, fixing your mistake is trickier if you have already completed your bankruptcy and your debts have been discharged. You may be responsible for the debt to your missing creditor.

Chapter 7 and No-Asset Cases

If you discover a missing creditor after a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, your liability may depend on whether you had a no-asset case. In a no-asset bankruptcy, the trustee does not liquidate any assets because they are all exempt, and your debts are still discharged. So, a bankruptcy court may rule that the debt from an omitted creditor in a no-asset case is already discharged because the creditor would not have received money from the bankruptcy. Most Chapter 7 cases in Texas are no-asset cases. However, this ruling does not apply if the creditor has a debt that is considered non-dischargeable, such as child support, alimony or certain taxes. 

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Choosing Whether to File for Bankruptcy Before or After DivorceDivorce and bankruptcy are both legal processes that can help you reconstruct your life. In some cases, people need both divorce and bankruptcy at the same time. In fact, either one can lead to the other:

  • Financial stress can cause conflict in a marriage; or
  • Divorce can be expensive and leave each side with less income to use towards debt repayment.

If you know you are likely to file for both divorce and bankruptcy, choosing which one you do first can affect how your bankruptcy case is settled and which form of bankruptcy you qualify for.

Bankruptcy Before Divorce

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Discharging Student Debt Through Bankruptcy Is Difficult, But Not ImpossibleThere is a common misconception that filing for bankruptcy will not allow you to discharge your student loan debts. Discharge is not impossible, but it is very difficult. You must file a separate action, called an adversary proceeding, in which you argue that continuing to pay for your student loans would cause you undue hardship. If your case is successful, the court may partially or fully discharge your student debt. However, some courts have stricter definitions of undue hardship than others.

Brunner Test

Most federal courts use the Brunner test to determine undue hardship. The court may decide that your student loan debt qualifies for discharge if:

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Important Differences Between Secured, Unsecured Creditors during BankruptcyOne way to categorize creditors when filing for bankruptcy is as secured or unsecured. The distinction between them can be important for both your creditors and yourself:

  • Secured creditors have a lien on your property that they can use as collateral if you are unable to repay your loan. Common examples include home loans, car loans, and tax liens;
  • Unsecured creditors do not have a lien that they can claim on your property. Credit card debt, payday loans, and medical bills are often categorized as unsecured debts; and
  • Some unsecured debts are priority debts that must be paid in full, regardless of bankruptcy protections. Child support, spousal support, student loans and some tax debts are common examples.

Secured creditors generally receive priority in being compensated during bankruptcy proceedings. How creditors are compensated depends on whether you are filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Secured Creditors in Chapter 7

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Passing the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Means TestBefore you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you should first determine whether you will qualify by using the means test. People often think of passing a test as a huge obstacle to achieving their goals. However, a bankruptcy means test is unlikely to prevent you from filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you need the advantages that come with this form of bankruptcy. You may be at greater risk of not qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because you were not thorough enough in documenting your income and expenses. An experienced bankruptcy attorney will conduct the means test for you and tell you whether the results suggest that you will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Meaning of the Test

The means test was created to prevent people from using Chapter 7 bankruptcy when they have sufficient disposable income, based on certain allowable expenses, to make a meaningful payment on their unsecured debts. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is advantageous in some situations because:

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National Association of Consumer Bancruptcy Attorneys State Bar of Texas
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