Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What is Presumption of Abuse in a Bucks County Bankruptcy?

In a Chapter 7 filing in Bucks County, the debtor must demonstrate that his/her filing is not an abuse of the bankruptcy laws. A means test has been established with the changes in the 2005 bankruptcy laws. This test will demonstrate that you either have or have not the financial means to repay your debt under Chapter 7.

The means test is based on your household size and the median income for your state. Unfortunately, and what frustrates many Bucks County residents seeking bankruptcy relief, is that Philadelphia and Bucks County salaries are typically higher than other areas of the state. Since incomes from other parts of the state create a lower median, many bankruptcy clients "fail" the means test and must be a Chapter 13 based upon their income over the last 6 months. Even more frustrating, an individual in Levittown must make under $44,897 per year to qualify for a Chapter 7, whereas a resident of Burlington, NJ (which is only 1 mile away!) who is using a Burlington County bankruptcy attorney has to make less than $59,060 to qualify for a Chapter 7. Clearly, the law attempted to make a simple, baseline test that hurts many potential bankruptcy filers. I wish it were based on Zip Code to more accurately reflect the cost of living for geographic areas.

If you cannot qualify under the means test for a Chapter 7, then you may be considered under Chapter 13 or your case may be dismissed by the trustee. A means test is complicated and you should rely on a Bucks County bankruptcy attorney proficient in such matters to help you establish your position in the bankruptcy filing.

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