Thinking of filing Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. I have been unemployed for 15 months, pay child support and have outstanding credit card debt. I have DMV surcharges that are outstanding and cause me to repeatedly lose my license for non-payment. Can these be included in a chapter 7 filing? If so, will I be able to include future surcharge amounts or only those that are on my account as of the filing date?
Yours is an interesting question. There is case law in New Jersey that motor vehicle surcharges are dischargeable in a bankruptcy case. A wonderful opinion written by Judge Morris Stern in the Pulley case. However, a later case found that motor vehicle surcharges when reduced to judgment were statutory in nature. Statutory judgments are generally not dischargeable. In a nutshell, if yours is a no asset chapter 7 case, the State of NJ is treating them as discharged. You will get a letter telling you that you do not have to pay them at this time. So far, none of my clients who has gotten that letter have ever been asked to pay them. Treatment will differ a little in a Chapter 13 case, where the judgment lien can be "stripped down." but that is another discussion.
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I agree with Mr. Truesdale.
All assets and all liabilities must be disclosed in your petition. Also, the bankruptcy discharge will only eliminate debts/liabilities incurred on or prior to the filing date. So future surcharges would not be discharged through a prior bankruptcy.
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Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Attorney
You should always list every debt in your bankruptcy filing. Whether or not the debt is eligible to be discharged is a matter of local interpretation. In Nevada, DMV will generally "roll over" and not attempt to pursue these debts. In addition, the Nevada DMV will return the drivers license.
Hope this perspective helps!
I concur with Mr. Truesdale. That is why our practice is always to order a judgment search, which will pick up state government liens, called debt certificates. I'd these have not been filed you can remove all liability for surcharges. Delay is your enemy in these situations.
The foregoing answer is for informational and educational purposes, not for purposes of legal representation. This answer is based on New Jersey law and is necessarily general in nature.. Laws in other states may be different, and each situation is different, so this answer might not apply accurately to you. No attorney client relationship is to be implied from this answer. Always seek independent legal advice.
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