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We’ve Taken a Cut in Pay And Can’t Afford Our Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Payment. – Carrie


“Dear Steve,

My husband and I filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy in December of 2008. At the time of filing we made a combined total of $64,000 annually. Our total debt is $237,000 ($200,000 in student loans and $37,000 in credit card debt) and our trustee would not allow us to pay our student loans directly along with a smaller bankruptcy payment for the credit cards so we have a large bankruptcy payment of $900 per month.

Needless to say, we are barely holding on – we have enough for gas and groceries after we pay our bills and that is it. I have since taken a lower paying job and now make a combined total of $60,400. We are in our mid 30’s and would like to start a family, but are terribly worried about adding an extra mouth to feed with these huge payments. We do not have any assets to protect from a Chapter 7 filing –we simply did not pass the Chapter 7 means test. I really don’t want to miss the opportunity to have a child and family because of this huge mistake we’ve made in our college years.

So, my question is twofold: 1) If we decide to have a child, will our current income of $60,000 allow us to pass the Chapter 7 means test because we would then be a 3 person household? And 2) I’ve read that trustees will not allow you to convert from Chapter 13 to 7 if it was an intentional choice to change your monetary situation. Will they view us having a child as an intentional choice?


Dear Carrie,

At the very least you should go back to your bankruptcy attorney and discuss a modification to your payment in the Chapter 13 based on your change of income.

I certainly understand about the motivations and decisions to have kids. It’s not crazy. When you are talking to your bankruptcy attorney, ask them for advice on the means test and what would happen if you were to get pregnant.

See also  Our Chapter 13 Payment is Too Much For Us to Handle. Help! - Melanie

I’m confident these are issues that can be easily worked out.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

P.S. Be sure to read ‘The Secret of Surviving Through Difficult Economic Times. What I Learned On My Journey‘.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


  • Thanks for your advice Steve! I will speak with our lawyer shortly to determine our options and, I suspect, conduct quite a bit of soul searching to determine if having a child is the best option when we have so much debt already on our plate. Maybe not having a child is just one more repercussion to making bad financial decisions.

    • Carrie,

      Update on what comes of the conversation with your bankruptcy attorney. On the child issue, I’m afraid I have no good advice for how to come to a good answer on that. I certainly don’t judge you either way on that issue.

      For me, when we were living through our tough financial time I could not see how we could have handled another child at the time. But latter in life I wished that we had. But in thinking logically about it I’m glad that we didn’t and it would have made things so much more difficult and we would not have been able to do all the things that we did for our daughter. See, I’m totally useless on that question. 🙂


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