Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a great tool for those in Kansas City who need assistance in paying off their debts. In some circumstances, it may allow the debtor to keep their home while still tackling outstanding debts. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan, the debtor and the court will establish a payment plan, which the debtor must follow in order for his or her debts to be discharged.
Yet, life happens and sometimes a debtor may find that they cannot complete his or her court-ordered payment plan. Does this mean that it was all for naught and the debtor will once again be facing a mountain of debt they cannot handle? Not necessarily.
In some situations, the debtor can seek a hardship discharge. There are certain factors that must be met in order for the court to award such a discharge. First of all, the debtor’s inability to follow through on their payment plan must be due to conditions that are not the debtor’s fault and, in fact, are out of the debtor’s control. Secondly, the debtor’s creditors must have been paid the same amount they would have if the debtor had filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy instead. Finally, it must not be possible for the plan to be changed or modified in any way.
For example, a severe illness or injury that prevents the debtor from working and earning enough to meet the goals of their plan, even if that plan has been modified, may qualify the debtor for a hardship discharge. Debtors should keep in mind that if a debt cannot be discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it cannot be discharged through the Chapter 13 hardship discharge.
While most people on a Chapter 13 repayment plan want to be able to work through the plan until the very end, sometimes life circumstances prevent them from doing so. The hardship discharge may help some debtors in these situations receive the debt relief they need. A bankruptcy attorney may be able to provide legal advice, which this post cannot, about the hardship discharge.
Source: uscourts.gov, “Individual Debt Adjustment,” accessed April 19, 2015