Month: April 2017

Help! I can’t afford my Student Loans!

Student Loans are a special kind of unsecured debt. This debt is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy, so while bankruptcy can help you free up funds for the payment of student loans by helping you to get rid of credit cards, repossessions, and old income tax obligations, in most cases it cannot get rid of your student loans. I often tell clients that it is easier to get rid of Uncle Sam (taxes) than it is to get rid of Aunt Sallie (student loans).

But, this does not mean you are stuck. There are things that you can do to help yourself with student loan payments that you cannot afford:

  1. Pick up the Phone.  Call your student loan  provider to see what programs are available to lower your payments or give you temporary relief from the payments. Just remember when you are on the phone to push to get information about all the programs available to you.  Do not just follow the instructions from the representative on the phone.  Servicers, such as Navient, are being sued by the U.S. Government for failure to provide borrowers with information and help.  In these suits, the servicers have claimed that in enrolling borrowers in the programs that were less time consuming and labor intensive for the servicers rather than the best program for the borrower that it was unreasonable for the borrower to expect the student loan servicer to act in the best interest of the borrower.  So be careful and do your homework!
  2. Get your Income Information Together.  An income based repayment plan may be a better option than temporary relief from any payment.  It easy in a fit of financial panic to take the option that frees up the most monthly income for other items needing your attention, but this decision may bite you in the butt later when payments must be made and the balance is quite a bit bigger than you remember.  You must choose which option is the best fit for you.  Which is best for you? The program that gives you the lowest payment or the program that most affordably allows you to pay off the student loan?
  3. Stick to the Plan.  If you default on a plan to repay or modified payment, work to either cure the default or research a new plan that is a better fit.  A good resolution is not a default ruining your credit report and your student loan balance getting larger.
  4. Refinance.  Refinancing part or all of your student loan may be a good solution.  There are a variety of companies that allow for the refinancing of student loans.  Refinancing may make the payment more manageable by extending the terms of repayment and lowering the interest rate.  Some companies allow you to extend the payments out to 25 years.  The downside is that the options for forbearance or deferment may not be available once the loan is refinanced.  There are a variety of websites that provide information about student loan refinance, such as,, and Once again, make sure to do your research!


bankruptcy affect spouse

Will filing bankruptcy affect my non-filing spouse?

I am often asked whether filing bankruptcy affect the non-filing spouse. Simply the answer is yes, the bankruptcy will likely affect your spouse. See below for the descriptions of how your non-filing spouse could be effected.

I am often asked this when consulting with a prospective client where one spouse is in financial trouble and the other non-filing spouse has a good job and little to no debt issue. Often, the situation is that the spouse in the better financial situation does not want the other spouse’s debt issues to impact his/her income or the assets that they hold jointly.

Things to know about filing bankruptcy when you are married:

  1. It is not a requirement that a married couple both file bankruptcy together. You can file your bankruptcy without including your spouse as one of the Debtors in the case, but it will indicate on the bankruptcy filing that you are married and that your spouse did not file.
  2. Your non-filing spouse will have to provide income information. Bankruptcy requires a lot of financial disclosures. The bankruptcy process takes into account the household size, household income and household debts. This information is used in the means test to determine whether a person is eligible to file chapter 7 bankruptcy. Alternatively, in a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the information determines the plan payment amount and the length of the plan (36 or 60 months). This means even though your spouse did not file bankruptcy, the non-filing spouse will have to provide information for the disclosures to be accurate.
  3. The non-filing spouse’s credit should not be effected. Your spouse is not providing his/her social security number, so his/her creditors and/or employment will not be notified of a bankruptcy. However, be warned that joint accounts will show that the obligation was included in a bankruptcy and automatic payments may stop. You may have to pay with good, old fashion checks since the electronic and phone payment options may not be available for the first few months of your bankruptcy.
  4. The trustee will know if you try to hide your non-filing spouse’s income. A federal bankruptcy filing is done under penalty of perjury. In addition to the filing, you will need to provide support documentation and testimony to support your filing information. The trustee will be looking at bank statements, paychecks, tax returns and other financial documentation. Once the trustee finds out that you tried to hide your non-filing spouse’s income, then the trustee will likely get more aggressive because he/she will be wondering what else you were trying to hide.
  5. Household Income is the standard even if you keep everything separate. Unfortunately, even if you are a couple that keeps your finances separate, the bankruptcy process looks at the expenses of the household all coming out of the same pot of income.

To find out details and information about how a bankruptcy filing could affect your spouse in your particular situation, schedule your free consultation (305) 278-0811 with one of the bankruptcy attorneys in our office!

quiet title

Florida Supreme Court decides Bartram Quiet Title Case

On November 3, 2016, the Florida Supreme Court released its Quiet Title decision in Bartram v. U.S. Bank, N.A.  The court affirmed the decision of the Fifth District Court of Appeals. In layman’s terms, the homeowners lost and the lenders won. The court held that the lender could sue based on new defaults that occurred even when the initial defaulted payments and acceleration were past the five-year statute of limitations.

The court rationalized that the dismissal of the foreclosure action returned the parties back to where they were before the acceleration and the foreclosure action was filed. Therefore, if the lender lists the newer defaults on the payments that were not barred by the five-year statute of limitations, the lender can file a new foreclosure and fix the deficiencies of the old foreclosure case that was dismissed.

This means that for a homeowner to win in a quiet title action the note would have to come due (reach its maturity date), then have five years pass in order to render all payments under the loan due and all barred by the statute of limitations. In this situation, the lender would be out of luck because the five-year statute of limitations will have run and there is no possibility for new defaults to restart the clock allowing a lender additional attempts to get the property back if the foreclosure was dismissed.