What Action Can a Debtor Take after Bankruptcy Discharge Regarding a Forgotten Debt?

The essential goal for Chapter 7 bankruptcy debtors is to eliminate past indebtedness so as to get a fresh start financially. The debtor will have reached this point in his or her Chapter 7 bankruptcy case when certain specific debts are discharged. In some instances, however, a debtor may have forgotten about some past debt and omitted that debt from the schedule of debts which the bankruptcy court will require the debtor to file early in the case. If it is not listed on such schedule, the  debt will generally not be discharged.


It is not unusual for a debtor to be reminded of some old debt when he or she receives a notice from a creditor months after conclusion of the Chapter 7 case. What steps can be taken by the debtor when the debtor discovers they failed to list a debt? The first thing to be done is to notify his or her bankruptcy counsel. The bankruptcy attorney will need to analyze the kind of claim involved. If it is not the type of debt which is dischargeable under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy – such as a claim for child support- there may not be any need to take any further action with the bankruptcy court. (It is worth noting that usually a debtor would not have forgotten about this kind of claim.)


On the other hand, if it is the kind of claim which is dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case, the debtor’s bankruptcy attorney may move (or request) the court to reopen the bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy court has discretion to decide if such a case should be reopened. The court may decline to do so in situations where the bankruptcy case was a no-asset case. These cases are ones in which the debtor had no valuable property to liquidate. On the other hand, the court may decide to reopen the case. After the case is reopened, the court may allow the debtor to amend his earlier bankruptcy petition to include this forgotten debt   If so, this debt could be subsequently discharged and the debtor may be relieved of its burden as well.


In Albuquerque, Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. has bankruptcy attorneys who offer expert handling of Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and can specifically provide advice as to disposition of property in Chapter 7, Chapter 11 and Chapter 13 cases..

The New Mexico firm represents many debtors and creditors in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos, Raton, Farmington, Gallup, Grants, Roswell, Los Lunas, Placitas, Belen and the rest of New Mexico. Contact Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. at (505) 633-6298 to set up an appointment or visit the firm’s website at giddenslaw.com. Giddens & Gatton Law, P.C. is located at 10400 Academy Road N.E., Suite 350 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.