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Our Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Payment is too High for Us Now. – Kim

“Dear Steve,

Two years ago my husband filed a chapter 13 bankruptcy. The payment we were given is extremely high-really too high for us to live with. My husband filed with roughly 20k in unsecured debt, a 30k second mortgage and 7k in past due 1st mortgage payments. The attorney told my husband the payment amount would decrease once he stripped the second mortgage. Once the 2nd mortgage was stripped we saw no decrease in payment. I called his office and was told by the secretary that the payment would not decrease but our time in the plan would decrease. This weekend my husband spoke directly to the attorney and was told that he was in the plan for a mandatory 5 years.

If it weren’t for the fact we thought the payment amount would decrease or that we would shorten our time, we would not have moved forward with this plan. My husband has received a pay cut with a wage freeze for the next 2 years. He has to work a tremendous amount of OT when it’s offered just so we can buy the kids shoes, go to the dentist etc- the plan does not leave any money for the normal expenses that come up in life. Anyhow, the plan was based on my husband’s 2007 tax return.

His 2008 fell below median and his 2009 will fall below median again. We would like to have the plan modified to shorten the length of the plan. When we asked the attorney if this was possible he said no because my husband owes too much money???The plan calls for unsecured creditors to be paid 13% -at this point most have been paid this much. The house payment is now current. Everything I have read says if your income changes you can request a modification. I don’t understand why this would not be true for my husband.

Can you change the length of your plan if your income falls below median?



Dear Kim,

I have no clue who your particular bankruptcy attorney is but simply based on what you’ve shared, I don’t have a tremendous amount of trust in the way the case is being handled.

You need to find another local bankruptcy attorney you like and go in for a second opinion about your situation and get some straight, and consistent, answers. This is critical.

What you will probably discover is that the payment can be modified or that it might be best to let the unsustainable Chapter 13 fail at this point and convert it to a Chapter 7.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

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

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About Steve Rhode

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.
  • Jeff Jackson


    This comment is not legal advise. As Steve mentioned, you definitely need to seek a second opinion. The Bankruptcy Laws are intended to help. It sounds like a conversion to Chapter 7 would be a viable opportunity as would modifying your plan.

    Critical points at this juncture are 1) Don’t miss any plan payments; 2) Don’t let your mortgage fall behind if it is not paid through the plan; and 3) Seek a second opinion from a local bankruptcy attorney.

    You will likely have to pay additional attorney fees if you Convert to Ch 7 or Modify your plan.

    Best of Luck


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