Bankruptcy Chapter 7 & 13

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FAQ Topics
  Stopping Creditors
When, Where & What
  to File

Debts Discharged
Child Support &
  Spousal Maintenance

Spouses & Joint Debts
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Preference in
  Paying Creditors

Court Meeting
Property Lost
Tax Effect
Secured Debts
Changes &
  Chapter 13 Plan

Missed Plan Payments
Dismissed Cases
Credit after Bankruptcy
      

Credit and Bankruptcy

How long may bankruptcy information be included in my credit report after bankruptcy?

Both the Bankruptcy Code and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (which regulates what a consumer reporting agency may include in your credit report) are Federal law, so the same rules apply to all states.

A consumer credit report may include information on a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy for 10 years from the commencement of the case. We have been advised that at least one major consumer credit reporting agency removes information about Chapter 13 after only 7 years although it is not legally required to do so.

Most other credit information may be reported for 7 years, except for civil suits, civil judgments, and arrest records can be reported for at least seven years, but may be reported longer if the governing statute of limitations is longer. For example, in Arizona, a court judgment is effective for 5 years. However, it may be renewed at the end of that time for another 5 year period, and again after that period. As a result, a renewed civil judgment could be reported for as long as it is effective.

The restriction on reporting any credit information do not apply to reports for:

  • credit transaction involving, or which may reasonably be expected to involve, a principal amount of $150,000 or more;
  • the underwriting of life insurance involving, or which may reasonably be expected to involve, a face amount of $150,000 or more; or
  • the employment of any individual at an annual salary which equals, or which may reasonably be expected to equal $75,000, or more.

The governing law, 15 U.S.C. � 1681c (renumbered as � 605), can be viewed at the Federal Trade Commission's site, Fair Credit Reporting Act.


Can you still get a Federal guaranteed student educational loan after you have filed bankruptcy?

Unlike most credit, the granting of government guaranteed educational loans is not based upon credit history or income.  They are instead extended if you meet the statutory and administrative criteria.  Although default on an existing educational loan may effect your ability to get a subsequent loan, the filing of a bankruptcy in itself should not. As a matter of fact, under � 525 of the Bankruptcy code the government is restricted from discriminating against those who have filed bankruptcy. For more information on educational loans, you can check with The Financial Aid Information Page, or the financial aid office at your local college.


How long after filing bankruptcy will I be able to get a loan to buy a house?  Will the interest be "sky high"? What are some of the other credit effects of filing bankruptcy?

The short answer to your question is that you may be able to finance the purchase a home two years after you have gotten your discharge in bankruptcy, but you may qualify as early as one year after filing Chapter 13, or one year after discharge in Chapter 7.

Since a large proportion of home loans depend on FHA or VA loan guarantees, your ability to qualify for those guarantees may determine when you are able to obtain a home loan.

FHA will insure mortgages to individuals who have filed Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy two years after the discharge if "the borrower has re-established good credit (or has chosen not to incur new credit obligations), and has demonstrated an ability to manage financial affairs."

To obtain a loan within one year after the discharge, the borrower must show that "the bankruptcy was caused by extenuating circumstances beyond his or her control and has since exhibited an ability to manage financial affairs and the borrower's current situation is such that the events leading to the bankruptcy are not likely to recur." 

FHA regulations also specify that a borrower still in a Chapter 13 debt adjustment who has satisfactorily completed one year of plan payments and gets court approval of the transaction. [U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of Housing, Handbook No.: 4155.1 REV-4 CHG-1, September 28, 1995. Chapter 2-3, E]

VA has similar regulations.  The VA handbook for lenders includes provisions that "If the bankruptcy was discharged more than 2 years ago, it may be disregarded."

If the discharge was between 1 and 2 years, the guarantee may still be granted if the applicant or spouse has obtained consumer items on credit subsequent to the bankruptcy and has satisfactorily made the payments over a continued period and the bankruptcy was caused by circumstances beyond the control of the applicant or spouse such as unemployment, prolonged strikes, medical bills not covered by insurance, etc.

VA regulations allow granting of the loan guarantee to a person in a Chapter 13 when the plan payments are finished satisfactorily, or after 12 months payments and the Trustee or the Bankruptcy Judge approves of the new credit. [Veterans Benefits Administration VA Pamphlet 26-7, Change 34, November 13, 1997]

If you obtain home loan financing with a loan guarantee, the loan rate should be based on the guarantee status of the loan.  As a result, I would not expect that the rate would be affected by the bankruptcy.

Other effects of bankruptcy on credit are difficult to assess.  Credit is extended by individual lenders, and is not generally regulated by law.  Lenders do not generally make their criteria public.  We do know that there are two factors which are important to creditors in extending credit.

  1. Ability to make payments.  Any lender will want to be sure that you have the ability to pay back a loan before extending you credit.  The discharge in a bankruptcy should improve your ability to make payments.  You will no longer owe the debt that you did when you filed, and you will no longer be subject to judgments, garnishment and other collection activities which would impair your ability to pay back the new loan.  In addition, the restriction against you filing a Chapter 7 for 6 years from the filing of your previous case may give the creditor some assurance of their ability to collect new debt.
  2. Credit history.  Lenders look at the way you have paid your bills in the past as an indication of how you will pay your bills in the future.  A bankruptcy is an adverse rating in this respect, but creditors can also see how your credit was before the circumstances which caused the bankruptcy.  If you had a good credit history and paid your bills on time before the bankruptcy, you may find that it is easier to re-establish credit than if you were perpetually behind on your payments and had judgments against you.

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These questions and answers are not intended as legal advice or as a statement of the law.  They are intended to suggest areas which you should discuss with your attorney.

Although Bankruptcy law is Federal code applicable to all states, the way it is applied may depend upon state law and varying practices of the courts, trustees, and even attorneys. As a result, some of these answers are directly applicable only in cases filed by our office in Arizona.

This page was last revised: 10/02/05