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The Chapter 13 Debtor’s Last Hurdle: The Section 1328 Certificate

Chapter 13 New York bankruptcy involves plenty of paperwork, to say nothing of patience on the part of the debtor. One particular hurdle a debtor must overcome is completing the “section 1328” certificate—named for its place in the Bankruptcy Code—and submitting it on time. The discharge order depends on the debtor doing so.

So what is this requirement? The Bankruptcy Code’s language is a tad dense on the topic, but debtors must certify to the bankruptcy court that they will have paid all of their domestic support obligations during the course of the chapter 13 repayment plan, including pre-petition arrearages. Congress enacted this requirement along with the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling requirement and the financial management course in 2005.

And as with those other two requirements, the section 1328 certificate doesn’t appear to do much for debtors. Debtors who are current on their domestic support obligations are just filling out more paperwork, but debtors who certify they are not current on such obligations will have to explain to the bankruptcy court in a hearing whether missing their payments was within their control or not. Because it’s unlikely that a debtor would make timely plan payments while inexcusably defaulting on a domestic support obligation, it’s similarly rare that the section 1328 certification requirement catches deadbeat debtors.

Of course, debtors who don’t complete the requirement will not receive a discharge, nor will debtors who misrepresent the status of their support payments. Lying in bankruptcy is always a bad idea.

The worst case scenario isn’t good for anyone. Support obligations aren’t being met, and debtors who are denied a discharge struggle more to make those payments anyway. This is why the section 1328 certification requirement isn’t popular among bankruptcy lawyers, but for the most part, debtors themselves rarely cause problems with the requirement.

If there is a lesson from the section 1328 certification, it’s that successfully completing a chapter 13 bankruptcy requires debtors to overcome a number of tedious hurdles. Consequently, it’s a sophisticated process that benefits substantially from the experience of a bankruptcy lawyer. If you are experiencing financial difficulties and you have domestic support obligations, then you don’t want to go through this process alone.

For answers to more questions about bankruptcy, the automatic stay, effective strategies for dealing with foreclosure, and protecting your assets in bankruptcy please feel free to contact experienced Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Lawyer Brooklyn NY Bruce Weiner for a free initial consultation.

Rosenberg, Musso & Weiner, L.L.P
26 Court St # 2211
Brooklyn, NY 11242, USA

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