Understanding Bankruptcy 8/15/2019

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Question: How can your bankruptcy affect your children?

Answer: 1. STRESS: Being deep in debt, receiving harassing calls from creditors, being threatened with garnishment, repossessions and foreclosure will often cause you and your spouse to experience overwhelming stress and anxiety. Your children, even young ones, also feel the stress. It affects their schoolwork and their emotional and physical health Uncontrolled debt often leads to marital conflict and divorce. The kids become the biggest losers. Filing for bankruptcy will usually relieve the debt burdens and the stress. This will often save a marriage and restore emotional as well as financial security for the entire family.

2. PROVIDING FOR YOUR FAMILY: When you’re paying out all of your income to try to cover your minimum debt payments, you often have difficulty paying for even life’s basic necessities. The little extras that mean so much to children, such as music lessons, dance lessons, tutoring, summer camp and regular health exams, are often neglected.

3. EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES: When you are having financial difficulty, it is often difficult to properly afford your children’s educational expenses. In the 2005 changes to the bankruptcy law, Congress specifically allowed parents to include in their allowable expenses some educational costs for their children under 18 years old.

4. STUDENT LOANS: Several factors should be considered regarding student loans. First, student loans, including parent PLUS loans, are generally not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Second, if you are in financial difficulty, you may not have a high enough credit score to get a parent loan to help your child pay for college. So if you are having debt problems when your children are still several years away from going to college, you should consider filing bankruptcy to wipe out your debts, so that you have more money available to help out your college-bound kids, and your credit score can recover by the time you have to get loans to help your kids pay for college.

5. CO-OWNERSHIP AND COSIGNED LOANS: Many parents want to try to help out by setting up joint bank accounts with their minor children. If you have done this, and then file for bankruptcy, you may find that your bankruptcy trustee attempts to seize the bank account and use it to pay towards your creditors. There are ways to set up accounts to prevent this from happening. Similarly, if you cosign a loan for your child to help them out, if they ever get into financial difficulty and have to file bankruptcy, your credit score will be negatively affected, and you will be hounded to pay the bill

Michael A. Cibik, Esquire

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