July 20, 2018

Can I Leave Selected Debts Out of my Bankruptcy Filing?

I get this question at least once a week – “I need to file bankruptcy but I don’t want to include my [mortgage] [car loan] [debt to my brother] [credit card co-signed by my company] [medical debt].   Let’s leave this debt off my petition.

Sorry – can’t do it.  As North Carolina bankruptcy lawyer Adrian Lapas writes in his recent post in the Bankruptcy Law Network blog:

When you sign your bankruptcy petition, you are certifying to the United States Bankruptcy Court, under penalty of perjury, that the petition and schedules attached to it lists all of your assets and all of your debts.  All means all!  You do not get to pick and choose which debts you list in your bankruptcy case.

Not only must you include all of your creditors but you may also have to include other “interested parties.”  In the Northern District of Georgia, for example, the Chapter 13 trustee requires all debtors who are subject to child support orders to include the custodial parent as a priority creditor in their Chapter 13 petitions.  Notice must be provided the custodial parent/child support recipient even if there is no arrearage.

Needless to say this requirement does not make child support paying debtors very happy because it means that their ex-spouse will know that the debtor has filed bankruptcy and will have ready access to the debtor’s financial picture.

The big picture here:  you lose a certain degree of control when you file bankruptcy, and you have to play by the rules.  Details of your financial life become part of the public record and people like ex-spouses, parents, bosses and friends may very well get notice of your filing and you can assume that some of these “nosy neighbors” will review your filing.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Ginsberg represents honest, hardworking men and women in the Atlanta area who need personal bankruptcy protection. In practice for over 25 years, Jonathan teaches bankruptcy law and practice at legal continuing education seminars and he is a founding member of the Bankruptcy Law Network. Jonathan lives with his wife and children in Atlanta.

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