What to Expect at Your Reaffirmation Hearing
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During a chapter 7 bankruptcy you may be asked to sign a “reaffirmation agreement.” This is a new written agreement to repay a debt after the bankruptcy. The most common type is from a car lender where you plan on keeping the car and maintaining the payments during and after the bankruptcy.
Certain types of reaffirmation agreements must be reviewed by your judge to determine if they should be approved or disapproved. To complete their review the judge will hold an informal hearing where they can ask you questions about the loan. This will most likely be the only time during your bankruptcy case where you are interacting with the judge directly. It is important to not interrupt the judge when he is speaking, and it doesn’t hurt to refer to him as “Your Honor” when talking to him.
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The hearings are generally over the phone on a conference line – you simply call in and enter the code provided to gain access. Once on the line wait quietly for the judge to begin the hearing. He will begin the call by making a general statement about the importance of considering whether to re-obligate yourself on a debt so that it survives your bankruptcy; that reaffirmations are voluntary and that within a certain time frame may be rescinded.
After the general statement he will begin to call the individual cases. When you hear your name called you respond by indicating you are present. At that point he may ask one or more of the following questions:
- Did you understand the initial general statement he made?
- Are you current on the loan you want to reaffirm?
- Have there been any negative changes to your budgets since the reaffirmation was filled out and filed with the court that would make it harder for you to make the payments?
- If there have been, then what to you plan to do to put yourself in a position to make the payments going forward? Or, do you wish to change your mind and simply have the judge deny the agreement?
- If no changes, do you currently make enough to be able to make the loan payments going forward?
The judge will then approve or disapprove the reaffirmation agreement and ask if you have any questions about his decision. This is a good time to address any concerns you may have with his ruling. After he answers your questions or if you have none he will then conclude the hearing. If you have questions for your attorney after the hearing you should call in and set a time to go over them on the phone.Back to Bankruptcy Attorney