WHAT IS THE BANKRUPTCY “MEANS TEST”?

Your eligibility for bankruptcy protection is determined in part by your household income. The Bankruptcy Code requires that you calculate your median income by looking at your gross income earned by you, your spouse and any other working member of your household during the 6 months proceeding the current month. You then have to add up all the income and divide by 6 to arrive at a number. This number is then compared to a median income table provided to us by the Census Bureau and the United States Trustee’s office. This calculation is called the “median income test.”
If you are over the median income, then a presumption of abuse arises as to your eligibility for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you must proceed to perform additional calculations (these additional calculations are called the “means test.”).
The addition of the median income and the means test to the consumer bankruptcy process has made bankruptcy a lot more complicated both for lawyers and for individuals. Many lawyers who used to handle bankruptcy cases no longer do so because of the complexity of the median income/means test process. My best advice is to speak with an experienced lawyer about your case. Ask the lawyer how long they have been filing bankruptcy cases for clients and how many cases they file a year. As with most things in life, experience matters. An experience Utah bankruptcy lawyer can be found at www.dlblaw.com.

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IS IT OK TO STOP PAYING ALIMONY AND CHILD SUPPORT DURING BANKRUPTCY?

No. The 2005 changes in the bankruptcy laws require a debtor to remain current on all domestic support obligations such as alimony or spousal maintenance, and child support, throughout the duration of the bankruptcy. If a debtor falls behind on his or her domestic support obligations during bankruptcy, the bankruptcy could be dismissed or converted from a Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7 proceeding. Visit www.dlblaw.com for more information on filing bankruptcy in Utah.

WHAT CAN I DO IF A CREDITOR ATTEMPTS TO COLLECT A DISCHARGED DEBT AFTER MY CASE IS CONCLUDED?

If a creditor attempts collection efforts on a discharged debt, the debtor can file a motion with the court, reporting the action and asking that the case be reopened to address the matter. The bankruptcy court will often do so to ensure that the discharge is not violated. The discharge constitutes a permanent statutory injunction prohibiting creditors from taking any action, including the filing of a lawsuit, designed to collect a discharged debt. A creditor can be sanctioned by the court for violating the discharge injunction. The normal sanction for violating the discharge injunction is civil contempt, which is often punishable by a fine. Click HERE for more information on Utah Bankruptcy.

WILL BANKRUPTCY WIPE OUT ALL MY DEBTS?

Yes, with some exceptions. Utah Bankruptcy will not normally wipe out:

(1) money owed for child support or alimony, fines, and some taxes;
(2) debts not listed on your bankruptcy petition;
(3) loans you got by knowingly giving false information to a creditor, who reasonably relied on it in making you the loan;
(4) debts resulting from ‘‘willful and malicious’’ harm;
(5) student loans, except if the court decides that payment would be an undue hardship;
(6) mortgages and other liens which are not paid in the bankruptcy case (but bankruptcy will wipe out your obligation to pay any additional money if the property is sold by the creditor).

I recommend that you consult with an experienced Utah Bankruptcy Lawyer to determine what your risk and liabilities may be if you file for bankruptcy protection.

WHAT IS A BANKUPTCY ADVERSARY PROCEEDING?

An adversary action is a lawsuit filed within a bankruptcy proceeding. There are many reasons for these lawsuits, sometimes even filed by the debtor when a creditor violates the automatic stay. At the Law Office of Douglas L. Barrett, LLC, we aggressively represent debtors in adversary actions as well as other aspects Utah Chapter 7 bankruptcy and Utah Chapter 13 bankruptcy.