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Regular filer unable to discharge debt in future case

Residents in Virginia who have substantial debts and are considering undergoing bankruptcy to resolve them should be aware that it is a legal process that should not be abused. This was demonstrated in a December 9, 2016, ruling in which a bankruptcy court ordered that a Chapter 13 debtor would not be able to have her debts dismissed if she decided to petition for another bankruptcy in the future.

According to a judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas, even though prohibiting a discharge of a future case is a harsh policy, it was correctly applied to the case as the debtor had undergone five bankruptcy cases in 14 years. She had filed petitions in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

The most recent Chapter 13 had been filed in 2013. While she was under bankruptcy, the debtor had filed a suit against a former employer and had received a $25,000 settlement that she later spent. After a bankruptcy trustee objected, the debtor submitted a motion to have her bankruptcy case dismissed and made clear her intentions to submit another Chapter 13 petition, which would be her sixth case.

The court determined the debtor can dismiss her case according to Section 1307(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, but that Section 349(a) permits the court, with reason, to stipulate that the dischargeable debts in the dismissed case should not be discharged in a subsequent case. The court allowed the debtor 21 days to decide if she wanted to change her plan rather than dismiss her case.

A bankruptcy lawyer may assist a client seeking relief from overwhelming debt by discussing the benefits and advantages of Chapter 13 bankruptcy. An attorney may also provide warnings regarding the client's financial decisions while undergoing the bankruptcy process.

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