Can the court say “No” to my bankruptcy case?

One of the most common questions my bankruptcy clients ask is whether their case can be rejected for some unknown reason. They fear that the judge won’t like them, or maybe he’ll think they were irresponsible with money.

Thankfully, this fear is misplaced. The short answer is no: a bankruptcy case cannot be automatically rejected. Bankruptcy is your statutory right to relief from unaffordable debt. It is not subjective and you cannot be denied relief even in the unlikely event that the judge actually doesn’t like you or thinks that you were irresponsible. In fact, most clients never even see the judge.

Here in Worcester, once a bankruptcy case is filed it is automatically assigned to a Chapter 7 trustee. The trustee is a court-appointed representative of your creditors. It is the trustee’s job to examine your case in order to determine whether you have any significant assets that can’t be protected, or if there are any other issues with the case. You and your attorney will have an in-person meeting with the trustee about a month after the case is filed. While you will testify under oath at this meeting, it is not a court hearing. It’s not even held in the court. Instead, it’s typically held in an office building on Main Street in Worcester.

However, the longer answer is that there are of course some limitations on bankruptcy relief. There are some types of debts that normally aren’t dischargeable, such as domestic support obligations, most student loans, and some taxes. Most other types of debt will generally be dischargeable unless you committed some bad deed—fraud, concealment of assets, lying on your bankruptcy petition, etc. Some bad deeds can result in one particular debt not being dischargeable, while others can impact the entire bankruptcy case. Fortunately, this isn’t something that most people will need to be concerned with.

My clients are honest, hard-working people who have had some unexpected event happen that wrecked their finances: job loss, divorce, medical problems, etc. Bankruptcy provides them a way to get a fresh start without any subjectivity or judgment. And unless you’ve previously committed some bad deed like fraud, you shouldn’t have any concern about a rejection of your case.

If you are considering a Worcester bankruptcy filing, please call Brine Consumer Law to discuss your situation. All consultations are free.