It’s pretty difficult for a creditor and rare to stand in the way of someone getting through a bankruptcy and getting a discharge. But creditors aren’t always completely out of luck when a customer / borrower files bankruptcy. There are several things a creditor may do to make the best out of what for them is a bad situation. Let’s talk about the most common forms of roadblocks likely to be thrown in the path of the person who files bankruptcy but there are rare.
In a Chapter 13, your creditor may file a “Proof of Claim.” Usually that just means that the creditor stands in the same line as all the other creditors to get the “pro rata” share. That means : they can get out of the Chapter 13 plan payment. No big deal. The plan payment doesn’t change as a function of them being in the line. They’ll just diminish the amount everyone else in that line receives. That’s how that facet of a Ch. 13 works.
In either a Ch. 7 or a Ch. 13, a creditor may file a motion or adversary proceeding in the bankruptcy court to have the bankruptcy court determine that . These are rare and usually you know they are coming.
(1) the debtor is a rascal who shouldn’t be allowed to enjoy the benefits of bankruptcy at all (creditor moves to have the court deny discharge of ANY debt; extremely rare, difficult to prove the grounds the creditor alleges which are usually fraud or deliberately dishonest behavior);
(2) The debtor is not a complete rascal but is enough of one that at least the complaining creditor should be treated better than the rest, i.e. no discharge as to the debt but only as to the debt owed the one creditor;
(3) the creditor is secured (read as in mortgage or car payment lender; occasionally a more exotic instrument like a UCC-1) and is entitled to have its collateral (again, usually a house or car) returned to it because the debtor is in default – this requires a motion for relief from stay, i.e. getting permission from the judge to go forward with a repossession or foreclosure.
There are some kinds of debts which are automatically nondischargeable. Where Child / Spousal / Family support and / or certain taxes are involved, the creditor doesn’t have to lift a finger to avoid the debt being discharged. It won’t be.
A word to the fearful and conflict avoidant: It’s common for someone involved in an ongoing lawsuit, feeling like it’s a David vs. Goliath situation then they think they should sign an agreement, any agreement, to get out of the law suit. If you’re the defendant who owes (or may owe) the money, don’t sign anything until you’ve talked to a really good bankruptcy attorney. I’ve seen stipulated judgments, in a civil suit, which recite facts that amount to my client having confessed to committing fraud. That sticks in bankruptcy.
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