The Law Office of Kurt H King

April 20, 2020

Bankruptcy Chapter 7 and the Covid-19 Virus

Filed under: Bankruptcy,Litigation — kurthking @ 4:20 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Many folks may be out of work and in a financial bind given the stay-home orders dealing with the Covid-19 virus.

Bankruptcy is one possible solution for some folks to wipe out debt and a gain a fresh start.

I handle such Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases as opposed to Chapter 13 bankruptcies which involve a repayment plan stretched out over years.

There is no charge for the initial phase of consultation to see if Chapter 7 is a good fit for you.  My typical attorney fee ranges from $1,500 to approximately $3,000 depending on the complexity of the case, number of creditors, whether the client needs extensive help filling out the necessary forms, etc.  In addition, the Court currently charges an initial filing fee of $335 for a new Chapter 7 case.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy generally stops creditors from collecting money from you (such as by garnishing your paycheck or taking the money in your bank account), as soon as the case is filed.  Cases generally take about 120 days from start to finish.

Please call if think we can help you!

Kurt H. King, 816.781.6000

Law office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty,  Clay County, Missouri

Practice Areas–Bankruptcy, Landlord-Tenant, Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Estate Planning (Wills, Beneficiary Deeds, Powers of Attorney, Trusts), Family Law & General Matters

December 22, 2015

Does Bankruptcy Court have Power to Hear Counterclaims in Adversary Proceedings?

If you file an Adversary proceeding in Bankruptcy Court, and defendant files counterclaims for infliction of emotional distress (actionable under state law), read the US Supreme Court’s 2011 opinion in Stern v. Marshall, 564 U.S. ___, 131 S. Ct. 2594.  There the high court reviews Article III powers of bankruptcy courts regarding such claims and rules that the bankruptcy court lacks power to enter final judgment on counterclaims of that species.  However, the remedy is not dismissal for lack of jurisdiction, but rather transfer to federal District Court (or the parties may consent to trial before the bankruptcy judge).

Law Office of Kurt H. King

20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Missouri 64068; 816.781.6000

Civil Practice including Litigation of Personal Injury and Property Claims, Workers’ Compensation, Family Law Matters

January 16, 2013

Discharge in Bankruptcy Of Debts Ordered Paid in a Divorce or Legal Separation Setting

Filed under: Divorce,Family Law,Litigation — kurthking @ 11:03 pm
Tags: , ,

While no longer “breaking news,” cases continue to proceed to court over what happens to an ex-spouse who fails to pay debt he/she was ordered or agreed to pay in connection with a divorce or legal separation proceeding under Missouri law.

One such recent case is Henderson v. Henderson, No. ED98357 (Eastern District Slip Opinion Filed December 26, 2012).  There the former wife filed a motion to hold her ex-husband in contempt for failure to pay a line of credit debt that he agreed to pay in a dissolution settlement agreement and the resulting court judgment of dissolution of marriage.   Instead of paying off the debt as ordered, this man filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and was granted a discharge of that debt–meaning that the creditor could no longer collect against the ex-husband.

But the creditor could proceed against the former wife to the extent that she was jointly obligated on the debt.  The opinion indicated that the line of credit creditor was attempting to collect from wife but apparently had not yet been successful in those attempts.  There is no mention of the creditor having sued or obtained a judgment against the former wife.  However, the former wife requested an award for attorney fees and costs in her case to hold her ex-husband in contempt of court.

At the trial, the judge  found that the ex-husband was not in contempt for non-payment of the line of credit indebtedness because, “the balance due US Bank is not owed by [Husband] to [Wife] or to US Bank.”  (See page 4.)  Nor did the trial court award attorneys fees and costs on the former wife’s claim for such in the contempt case.  On the other hand, the trial court did order the ex-husband to pay wife [not US Bank]  $9,600 which turned out to approximate roughly half of the balance of the line of credit discharged in the ex-husband’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Both parties appealed the trial court’s decision, the ex-husband complaining that he should not have to pay former wife $9,600 when she never paid a dime of the balance to US Bank on the line of credit.  And, wife of course charged the trial court with error in not holding the ex-husband in contempt to force him to pay her all the line of credit debt and her attorneys fees and costs incurred in the contempt case.

On appeal, the Eastern District easily found in favor of  the former wife in holding the entire Line of Credit is nondischargeable pursuant to 11 USC section 523 (a)(15) which provides that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge–

“[D]oes not discharge an individual debtor from any debt–

. . .

(5) for a domestic support obligation;

. . . [or]

(15) to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor and not of the kind described in paragraph (5) that is incurred by the debtor in the course of a divorce or separation

or in connection with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record, or a determination made in accordance with State or territorial law by a

governmental unit.”

And this is apparently true even though the ex-spouse fails to file any objection to discharge of the marital debt in the bankruptcy case as the former wife failed to file any such objection to her ex-husband’s bankruptcy case.

The appellate court then summarily rejected the ex-husband’s argument that the former wife failed to make a sufficient case of contempt, and ordered the case sent back to the trial judge for reconsideration of whether husband was in fact in contempt of court and the former wife’s attorney’s fees.

So, this case makes clear that one spouse–the former wife in this case–need not file objection in the other spouse’s bankruptcy case in order to prevent discharge of such marital debt.  Rather, the “marital debt” is not dischargeable even when no objection to discharge is filed.

And while that reasoning seems clear, what about the holding that the debtor owes his or her former spouse the full amount of the discharged debt when that former spouse has not paid a penny of the debt in issue and has not even been sued to collect the debt, and there is no judgment against her to pay any of the debt?  For if the ex-husband now pays the full amount of the debt to the former wife  to avoid jail for contempt of court, there remains no assurance that former wife will use all or even part of those monies to pay the creditor.  Or, perhaps, the former wife negotiates with the marital debt creditor so that she pays only part of the debt in return for a full release of the debt, and by so doing pockets some of money for herself.  The trial court in this case may have been best situated to assess how “judgment proof” the former wife is and craft judgment accordingly so that a windfall to the former wife did not result at the unfair expense of the ex-husband.

As a practical matter, the ex-husband may find himself better off to negotiate quickly with US Bank to pay 50 cents on the dollar, for example, in order to get a full release of himself and his former wife on the marital line of credit debt.  Maybe that is the real lesson in this case–assuming he has the money to pay.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri; 816.781.6000

Domestic Relations Law and General Practice–Divorce, Modifications, Paternity, Child Support, Custody, & Visitation

March 15, 2012

Credit Card Cancer Fuels Bankruptcies

Filed under: Bankruptcy — kurthking @ 7:18 pm
Tags: ,

What causes the most Chapter 7 bankruptcies in this office?  Credit card debt.

People want to buy what they can’t afford.  They want the good stuff that so and so has.  They can’t wait. 

Instead of encouraging borrowing responsibly, some banks feed the disease by offering debt limits far beyond what a card holder can pay.  The bank may not even have a statement on the account holder’s income or net worth.  When card limits run as high as half of a year’s income, a bank should know better.  And if it doesn’t know, it should by having decent financial data on its credit card holder.  Apparently, the desire to hook the public on credit cards to generate bank revenue through interest, late fees, and whatever else placates the greed for profit that motivates some banks.  What happened to making money the old fashioned way–maybe that is the old fashioned way?

Experience tells me the big banks don’t care about “little” people like you and me.  You can’t get them on the phone and you can’t drive down and talk to them.  The left hand seems not to know what the right hand is doing.  So, unless you need to borrow a billion dollars, consider the local bank that probably would care about you and your financial health.  Heck, one of your neighbors may even work there–or did until he or she was laid off. 

I would put good money on a bet that the local banks in my area–Clay County Savings Bank, Pony Express Bank, Bank of Weston, Commerce Bank, and others–will not hand you a credit card with a $30k maximum limit when you make $60k a year.  We can dial back our spending and go conservative with the smaller local banks that have been here through thick and thin long before the big banks told us the sky is our limit.

And, if our lawmakers are wise, they will rein in the big national banks with laws that put a hurt on banks that supply credit far in excess of what a person can repay.   Maybe pass a law that lets the credit card account holder wipe out in bankruptcy any balance due more than 15% of the annual income or net assets as reported to the bank. 

Just a few of many thoughts on this dilemna.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068


Chapter 7 Bankruptcy for debtors

Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation

Child Custody & Support & Visitation, Divorce & Modification, Paternity, Family Law in General

December 28, 2011

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy & Walking Away From A Home Loan

Filed under: Bankruptcy,Litigation — kurthking @ 10:22 am
Tags: , , ,

Folks who have lost their job or otherwise fallen on hard times sometimes lack the money to make their home loan payments.   Too, the value of the residence may have fallen, leaving the home owner under water with a loan balance that far exceeds the value of the property.  In situations like these, the owner may consider walking away from the property and defaulting on the loan.

Does the bank/lender sell the home at the foreclosure sale and mark the loan Paid In Full so the borrower can move on and start afresh?  Not hardly. 

Typically, there is a balance due from the borrowers after the sale that is called a deficiency.  The lender can sue the borrowers and garnish their wages or otherwise try to collect the deficiency.  At the least, the default shows up on a credit report and makes it difficult or impossible for the borrowers to get loans in the future so long as the deficiency remains on their record.

Some folks qualify to file bankruptcy, often under Chapter 7 to wipe out debts and start over or under Chapter 13 where a payment plan is ordered requiring the debtor/borrower to pay part of the debts over several years.

For those borrowers who cannot qualify for relief in bankruptcy court, walking away from a home loan may be a nightmare with no end in sight.  Don’t make the mistake of going that route without seeing if there are any other options.

Kurt H. King

Law Office of Kurt H. King, 20 E. Franklin, Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068


Bankruptcy, Litigation, Personal Injury, Missouri Workers’ Compensation, Family Law


January 10, 2011

Reaffirmation Agreements in Missouri Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases

Filed under: Bankruptcy,Uncategorized — kurthking @ 6:07 pm
Tags: ,

Many times a debtor wants to keep a car or house, for example, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case here in Missouri. And, creditors nearly always would rather have the debtor keep the vehicle and continue to make the payments on the loan from that creditor secured by a lien on the vehicle or house. Consequently, Chapter 7 bankruptcy law gives the debtor the options of (1) surrendering the vehicle/home/other asset to the creditor, (2) entering into a reaffirmation agreement, or (3) the rarely exercised option of redeeming which requires a single large payment to the creditor to retire the debt forever.

In a reaffirmation agreement, both debtor and creditor/lender agree in writing in a certain form that the court requires that the debtor keep the asset and make the payments to the lender despite the bankruptcy.

The agreement must be one that the debtor can afford. This is very important because the debtor cannor refile Chapter 7 for 8 years. If during that 8 years the debtor fails to make the payments on the loan or otherwise defaults on the loan, then the debtor is likely to be sued and may well suffer garnishment of wages and execution on bank account assets by the lender to obtain repayment of the balance of the loan that the debtor reaffirmed. DO NOT REAFFIRM UNLESS YOU ARE REASONABLY CERTAIN THAT YOU CAN PAY OFF THE FULL LOAN ON THE REAFFIRMED DEBT.

A side note on this topic is that some home lenders have refused to join in reaffirmation agreements. Rather, such a lender simply lets the debtor of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case stay in the residence as long as debtor making the loan payment to pay off the loan in full per its original terms. If the debtor so pays off the loan over the years, then: the creditor gets its money, releases the lien, shows the loan satisfied in full; the debtor owns the home free of the lien of the loan; and, all are happy.

But what if a few months or years after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case closes, the debtor/home owner fails to make the loan payments and the loan hits default status leading to foreclosure sale?

With a foreclosure sale, the debtors look pretty certain to lose the house.

The sticky issue is whether the debtor/home owner will also be personally liable for any deficiency–that is the balance of the loan that remains due even after the sale of the property for less than the full amount due on the loan and foeclosure expenses. The debtor/home owner may claim that the debt/home loan was not reaffirmed in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy and thus discharged, which would mean no personal liability on a deficiency judgment. But will the creditor and the court agree? And, can the debtor/home owner afford to hire an attorney to protect his position in court so the judge makes the right decision? Unfortunately, debtors that want to reaffirm and keep the house will have to go this route to keep the home when the practice of the home loan lender is not to enter into written reaffirmation agreements filed with and approved by the bankruptcy court.

Note that the bankruptcy court does not now make creditors provide or enter into reaffirmation agreements in Missouri Chapter 7 cases.

Kurt H. King
Law Office of Kurt H. King
20 E. Franklin
Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

Bankruptcy, Child Custody and Support, Divorce and Modification, Family Law
Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation

Bankruptcy–Chapter 7 Exemptions in Missouri

Filed under: Bankruptcy — kurthking @ 5:27 pm
Tags: ,

Missouri law sets out several kinds and amounts of property that debtors keep free from creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Some of the usual ones are summarized below. Note that there are many others under Missouri law which are NOT listed below so check your particular case with a lawyer.

Missouri statute 513.430: Household furnishings and goods, clothing, books, animals, etc., for personal, family, or household use—$3,000 per each debtor
Wedding ring—$1,500 each debtor
Other jewelry—$500 each debtor
Wildcard to apply to any property—$600 each debtor
Implements/tools/ professional books of the trade of debtor or dependent—$3,000 each applicable debtor
Any motor vehicle “in the aggregate”—$3,000 each debtor
Any one or more unmatured life insurance policy/contracts
Professionally prescribed health aids (glasses, hearing aids, wheel chair, etc.–no dollar limit)
Rights to receive Social Security, unemployment, LOCAL public assistance benefit (does not now cover Earned Income Credit tax refund)
disability, veteran’s benefit (but this does NOT protect one the benefit is paid to you, for example if it is in your checking account)
Right to receive alimony/maintenance or child support up to $750 per month
Certain qualified retirement plan assets (401k, IRA’s, pensions, possibly others)
Certain wrongful death benefits
And certain other exemption property

Missouri Statute 513.440 The head of the household gets to apply an exemption to any property—$1,250, plus $350 per unmarried, dependent child under age 18

Missouri Statue 513.475 One homestead exemption of up to $15,000 of equity in the debtor(s)’ home

These are some common exemptions that help folks keep a few basic assets even though they file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Missouri. Remember that there are many other exemptions which could also apply in some cases.

Kurt H. King
Law Office of Kurt H. King
20 E. Franklin
Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

Bankruptcy, Child Custody and Support, Divorce and Modification, Family Law
Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation

January 7, 2011

Bankruptcy and Divorce in Missouri

Filed under: Bankruptcy,Divorce,Family Law — kurthking @ 6:07 pm
Tags: , ,

Many spouses in broken marriages face filing (1) Chapter 7 bankruptcy and (2) for divorce. When couples divorce, many lack enough income to pay his/her share of the bills/debts. Should they file bankruptcy first, or start with the divorce, or do both at once?

Here are some considerations:

1. A husband and wife can file bankruptcy together in a single case. After the divorce, the couple are no longer married and each has to file their own bankruptcy case which doubles the total cost in attorneys fees and court filing fees. With attorneys fees of up to $2000 per case (or more) and a filing fee now of $299, it saves money to file 1 case instead of 2.

2. Can the couple agree/cooperate well enough to file the bankruptcy together? If not, then he/she will have to file bankruptcy separately. Preferably he/she/each files before the divorce so all the debts of the person filing are wiped out by the bankruptcy, making it easier to settle or for the judge to decide the divorce case because it is often more simple to divide property than it is to divide both property and the debts.

3. Also, it may be better to discharge the debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy before filing for divorce, because divorce cases which address division of debts typically call for for each spouse to pay some of the joint debts, and to indemnify/reimburse the other spouse if the creditor collects from the other spouse who was NOT ordered to pay the debt. These indemnity provisions generally do NOT go away in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, which, means that one spouse could be forced to repay the other ex-spouse after the divorce. It is better to wipe out these debts with bankruptcy before divorce to reduce the exposure to having to indemnify an ex-spouse for joint debt the court ordered you to pay and hold harmless/indemnify.

4. Can the divorce and the bankruptcy cases run at the same time? Yes they can both be filed and pending in court at the same time, but when division of property is involved, the automatic stay in bankruptcy law (11 U.S.C. 362(b)(2)) will put a stay/stop on the divorce case as far as property until the bankruptcy court determines what property goes to creditors. A bankruptcy case with no assets for creditors takes 3 months or more, so considerable delay can result while the spouses wait to get divorced.

5. There are many other factors such as the incomes of the parties and whether their combined or separate incomes are too great to qualify under the means test of Chapter 7; who has filed bankruptcy before, what chapter of bankruptcy, and how long ago (8 years or more?); etc.

These are thorny questions for you and your attorney.

Kurt H. King
Law Office of Kurt H. King
20 E. Franklin
Liberty, Clay County, Missouri 64068

Bankruptcy, Child Custody and Support, Divorce and Modification, Family Law
Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation

Blog at