Hardship Discharge in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

When a debtor files for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in New York, the typical end result is either a 3 or 5 year plan requiring the debtor to pay his disposable income to the bankruptcy trustee, who in turn will pay to the debtor’s creditors. Occasionally, a debtor may suffer further financial reverses or health problems, so that the repayment plan is no longer affordable, and there is not possibility of modifying the plan. While one of the options is converting the Chapter 13 Bankruptcy into Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, it may not always be possible because of the means test issues.

If debtor can’t keep up with Chapter 13 plan payments, U.S. Bankruptcy Code includes a provision called a Hardship Discharge that provides relief for debtors who can’t continue with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  The hardship discharge is contained for in 11 U.S.C. 1328(b). The debtor who cannot complete the repayment plan, can ask the court for a hardship discharge. In most cases, the discharge is only available when the following conditions are met:

Through no fault of his own, debtor has experienced circumstances that are beyond his control that makes it impossible for him to continue to make plan payments.
The payments made so far in the Chapter 13 Plan are at least as much as each creditor would have received in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation case, i.e., the “best interest” test is satisfied.
The repayment plan can’t be modified to allow debtor to continue making payments at a lower amount.

When it is expected that the period of hardship is short, the bankruptcy courts prefer that debtor moves to modify his Chapter 13 Plan to pay a lower amount than was originally agreed upon until circumstances change for the better.  Given the present economic difficulties, bankruptcy courts, here in Rochester and elsewhere in New York, are willing to consider a hardship discharge as a way to move the case forward rather than risking dismissal or conversion to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

If debtor cannot continue to work as a result of an illness or injury, it is likely that his income was reduced significantly or he may not be able to work at all. In some cases, debtor might not have any money left over once his basic living expenses are met. In this case, a hardship discharge may be the answer. It will eliminate any debts that are dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

If you contemplating filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, or are dealing with debt problems in Western New York, including Rochester, Canandaigua, Brighton, Pittsford, Penfield, Perinton, Fairport, Webster, Victor, Farmington, Greece, Gates, Hilton, Parma, Brockport, Spencerport, LeRoy, Chili, Churchville, Monroe County, Ontario County, Wayne County, Orleans County, Livingston County, and being harassed by bill collectors, and would like to know more about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, contact me today by phone or email to schedule a FREE initial consultation with a Rochester, NY, bankruptcy lawyer.