Georgia Bankruptcy Law Network

Georgia Bankruptcy Law Network

Bankruptcy Questions Answered by Georgia Bankruptcy Law Professionals

Can Same-Sex Couples File A Joint Bankruptcy Case?

Short, easy answer – yes, same-sex married couples can file a joint Bankruptcy case and it is not even a disputed issue now.  Bankruptcy law says a joint case can be filed “by an individual that may be a debtor under such chapter and such individual’s spouse.”  As of June 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage is legal in all states (see Obergefell v. Hodges).  Bankruptcy law is a federal law, and Bankruptcy Courts are federal courts, as opposed to state and local courts.  The United States Trustee, which has oversight over the Bankruptcy system (other than the Judges), is a division of the U.S. Department of Justice.  Therefore, all will follow federal law even if there are still various disputes and protests in some states and some delays in couples actually getting married.

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy and Foreclosure lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.



Foreclosures in Georgia: The Starting Point

foreclosureIn Georgia, the first Tuesday of every month is “Foreclosure Day.” It is the one day a month when home lenders are able to foreclose on homes and other real estate, assuming they have met the other requirements of foreclosure such as notice to the borrowers.  Not surprisingly, the busiest day for Bankruptcy filings in Georgia is the Monday before Foreclosure Day.  If you are reading this because you are facing a foreclosure of your home, we have compiled many of the top posts about foreclosures below.

For more reading, click on the categories across the top of this page, or the tags at the bottom of each post.  Hopefully the post and articles are informative and easy to read. However, keep in mind a good lawyer can sit with you for an hour or so and come up with options that will work for your specific situation.

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy and Foreclosure lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.

Federal Student Loan Forgiveness Program For Borrowers With Disabilities

logoThe U.S. Department of Education recently announced a new process to identify and assist borrowers with disabilities who may be eligible for Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) federal student loan discharge.  More information about qualifications and the application process can be found by clicking here.  You can also read the April 12, 2016 Press Release by clicking here.  This is not new program, but rather a new process for a program instituted in 2012.  Apparently, the agency did not get the word out to borrowers or did a poor job at administrating the process (after all, it is the government!). “Under the new process, we will notify potentially eligible borrowers about the benefit and guide them through steps needed to discharge their loans, helping thousands of borrowers. Americans with disabilities have a right to student loan relief. And we need to make it easier, not harder, for them to receive the benefits they are due.”   Note that this program does not include private student loans. Continue Reading

Who Gets Life Insurance Proceeds If The Insured Files For Bankruptcy?

Insurance PolicyIf a person files for Bankruptcy, and during the case or shortly after the case closed that person passes away, who gets the life insurance proceeds?  Is it the beneficiaries on the policy, or does the money go to the person’s creditors or the Bankruptcy Trustee?  Thankfully, the answer to this question is usually pretty straightforward – the proceeds still go to the beneficiaries named in the policy.  Those insurance proceeds are not “property of the estate” in the Bankruptcy case and the Trustee or creditors have no legal interest in the money.  In cases where the insured person names their “estate” (meaning their probate estate, rather than Bankruptcy estate) as the beneficiary so that their final bills and funeral expenses will be paid off, the money may be administered in the Bankruptcy case or the probate estate, depending on the status of the Bankruptcy case and state law.  Again, this is still honoring the wishes of the person when they directed where the money goes. Continue Reading

I Am Behind On Child Support – Can I File For Bankruptcy To Stay Out Of Jail?

Falling behind on child support payments is a bad situation for everyone.  Not only are their serious legal issues involved, there are often child supportvery strong emotions in play.  In Georgia and probably all other states, the failure to pay child support can land the non-paying parent in jail (usually after clear warnings from a judge).  If you are behind on child support payments ordered by the family court can you file for Bankruptcy to avoid a contempt charge and jail?  The answer is…maybe.  It really depends on many factors, including the status of the case in family court, the demeanor of the family court judge, the extent of the past-due payments, whether or not the family court judge believes the non-paying parent is a “deadbeat parent” just looking to avoid paying, and several more factors. Continue Reading

April 15 Is Coming Up: The Importance Of Filing Tax Returns On Time!

tax_returnAs we all know, April 15 is a bad day for almost all of us.  This is the day we are supposed to report to the beloved Internal Revenue Service (and usually our state revenue departments) and find out how much we owe them in taxes (and, yes, that includes people who get a refund – remember that is just your money you “overpaid”).  In our self-reporting system you have a legal duty to file your tax returns by the deadline or timely request an extension.  While there are a few negatives for missing the deadline, most importantly penalties and interest, for purposes of this post and this website I will mention one related to Bankruptcy.  While the general rule is that taxes are generally not dischargeable in Bankruptcy, there is an exception for tax debt from several years ago.  We discuss that exception in this prior post.  One of the requirements for getting a discharge of taxes is that “honest” tax returns have been filed for those taxes.  In recent years, many Bankruptcy courts, and higher appellate courts, have held that those returns must have been timely filed and if they were filed even one day late, the exception does not apply.  Even courts that do not follow this harsh “one day late” rule (including those Georgia, Florida and Alabama) have considered the timing of late filed returns, including whether they were filed only after the IRS sends nasty notices. Continue Reading

If I Pay Off One Credit Card Before Filing For Bankruptcy Can I Keep the Card?

There are many things people think about in the days and weeks before a Bankruptcy case is filed, and one of them is what happens to thecreditcardsir  credit cards.  Most of us use credit cards on a weekly, if not daily, basis for lunch, groceries and online bill payments.  If we suddenly realize we cannot use those cards anymore, and have to start using cash and old-fashioned checks, we might get a little stressed about it.   Many people who travel for business almost have to have a credit card for travel arrangements.  A common question is whether a credit card can be paid off in full just before a Bankruptcy case is filed so the card issuer allows the continued use of the card after Bankruptcy.  It makes some sense on one level, but does it work? Continue Reading

What Are My Chances Of Filing My Chapter 13 Case Without A Lawyer?

Pro SeThe internet is a great thing, so thanks to Al Gore for inventing it.  If I need to fix something around the house and run into trouble, chances are there are Youtube videos that will solve the problem.  If you are considering Bankruptcy, you might start with google searches to get more information (and hopefully this site comes up).  Look long enough and you’ll find websites and people that tell you that you can file your own Chapter 13 without paying a lawyer (known as representing yourself, or “pro se“).  You are a pretty smart person, and willing to put in the work, so why not?  There are many reasons, and we could take up several posts to go through some of them and discuss real-life disasters, but the most important reason is that the chances of even getting a confirmed Chapter 13 plan are close to zero percent.  In recent studies, the rate is less than one-half of one percent.  About 4 people out of one-thousand who proceed without a lawyer get to a confirmed plan, and while that is a big step it is not close to a successful completion of the case.  It is also a safe bet that most or all of those four people have some help behind the scenes.  The bottom line is that if Bankruptcy is something you are considering, find a couple good lawyers in your area and make sure it is done correctly.  This is the beginning of the rest of your financial life, so do not waste time, money and energy one something that is just not going to work.  You owe it to yourself, and your family.

Scott Riddle is a Bankruptcy lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.  The best way to contact us is by phone at 404-815-0164. You can also email, or contact us through the contact page.


Sometimes Life Just Happens.

Bankruptcy can solve most, and sometimes all, financial problems for some.  It provides an opportunity to move forward in life without the heavy anchor of overwhelming debt.  For many, it is a chance to make up missed payments on the family home over time so they don’t have to pack up the kids and dogs and find a new place to live.  It does not solve all problems for all people.  Then there are those times when life just comes along and happens.  I happen to see that in a creditor meeting last week.  I don’t know anything about the case, other than it was a Chapter 7, the young man lived with his mother, had no assets for the estate in his Schedules, and his concerned girlfriend was present in the room waiting for his meeting to finish.  Then the Trustee said something that changed things completely: “I understand that your mother recently passed away.”  The Trustee was as polite as he could be in asking, but it was his duty to see what assets were available to creditors and that includes property that a person inherits within 180 days after filing a Chapter 7 case.  It turned out that this young man’s mother died just two weeks before the meeting and he was to inherit her house (which was also his home), which was free and clear of any debt.  This means that the house became property of the estate, and the Trustee will, presumably, sell the house and the young man will be forced to move. What happened?  What went wrong? Who screwed up?  Continue Reading

Why Are Old Debts Still On My Credit Report After They Were Discharged In My Bankruptcy Case?

Credit Report2The primary goal of most Bankruptcy cases is to get a discharge of some or all of your debts.  The discharge order is an important document that will permanently protect you from future attempts to collect all debts that were discharged, and you have your important “fresh start.”  It is your time to move on with your life, hopefully with far less stress.  A while after your discharge, you check your credit report and you are surprised to find that all of the debts that you listed in your Bankruptcy schedules, that your lawyer (and Court order) told you were discharged, are still there, staring right at you!  Did something go wrong in the case?  Did your Bankruptcy lawyer forget to file something?  Is the credit report wrong?  Probably not.  It is important to understand what a discharge does and does not do for you. Continue Reading