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Can I file?

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What is the name of your state? Arizona

This may be a bit long-winded but here goes.

I lived in AZ for about 4 years before moving abroad for work. Prior to leaving, I made arrangements with my dad to send him money and he would make the payments on my bills, such as student loan and my remaining credits card payments. My statements/bills were already being mailed to his residence and I was concerned about attempting payments internationally directly to my creditors. So it made sense just to send him the money.

I sent money to my dad as planned, but there were a few months where he helped me out when my income just wasn't cutting it. Four years passed and my father passed away (July 03). I returned to the states for the funeral to find that he had in fact not been making payments for me. It turns out he was in severe finanacial trouble and my only guess is my money went to keeping his ship afloat.

Aside from jotting down notes to myself, I didn't keep any sort of record of payments made, balances remaining, etc. My dad had assured me he was covering it for me. I don't have any statements, bills, collection notices, etc. since I was clearly out of the country.

I got a copy of my credit report and almost fell out of my chair. So here I sit with a stack of debt, all of which has gone to collections. I'm in default on my student loans. None of my credit cards/department store cards were paid off as I had been lead to believe. Even some utility bills for the apartment that I shared with my dad are there. And as one would imagine, every debt has been slapped with late fees, collection fees, etc.

I was laid off in April and moved back to Arizona this month in order to resolve the problem. My wife, however, is still in Israel until I can get this under control. Because of the difficult economic situation in Israel the past couple of years, my employer went out of business, our savings has been spent keeping our necks above the water, we are left with only our household assets (bed/tv/couch/etc.), and we have no chance at paying any of these debts off for quite a while.

I have spent the past week looking into filing Chapter 7 but am concerned that my debts (outside of the obvious student loans) will not be discharged due to oddities like the fact that I have been living abroad for so long. I have approximately $30,000 in unsecured debt plus another $20,000 for the student loans. I have spoken with a couple lawyers but wanted to come here before moving forward.

So, some of the questions keeping me up at night are:

1. Even though the student loans cannot be discharged, do they still count against my ability to repay the other debts?

2. Will living abroad (and not making payments) for 4+ years disqualify me in any way?

3. I blame myself for this mess. Should I even bother trying to explain what happened with my dad? I don't have any real proof, and I hate making excuses or passing the buck. However, if I file I certainly want everything to go my way.

4. Even though I have little in terms of assets, I paid about $1000 to have our belongings shipped to the US. This is before about $2000 for airfare for my wife and I. And before any expenses for apartments, utilities, etc here. Will these expenses look bad when filing?

5. I'm not a little kid but am ashamed of myself for this situation. It has dramatically affected future plans for my wife and I. Neither of us expect a major increase in income over the next few years, especially since my wife is currently in the process of immigrating to the US. We had planned on eventually buying a house, having kids, etc. But we can't imagine that for a number of years with this hanging over our heads.

Does any of this matter to the trustee/judge/court? Will they look at our potential quality of living if we're forced to pay everything off?

Any and all help you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I really feel overwhelmed by all of this. It was a shock to our system to begin with. But now it's compounded with a great deal of information and jargon we're simply not familiar with.

And before I forget, I already feel like a fool, especially having been ripped off by my own father. So I don't need any help there. The lesson has certainly been learned.


Senior Member
My response:

You're right. It is long-winded.

If you have to write a post that is so lengthy, then you had better get a legal consultation from a local BK attorney.



Senior Member
First question - have ALL these debts (except the student loan and utilities) gone FOUR years without ANY payments ???

If that is true, then the statute of limitations on all those credit cards has run out. The SOL on credit cards in AZ is 3 years. What that means is that none of those creditors can pursue legal enforcement to collect the debts. IF one of them sued you, you have an absolute defense with the expiration of the SOL.

So, bankruptcy may not be necessary unless you really just want to wipe it out for good. Negatives will stay on your credit for 7 years from the charge-off date. If all these were charged-off 4 or more years ago, then they will drop off your credit report by themselves at the 7 year mark. That means approx 3 more years with all the baddies.. and you may succeed in disputing some of them off before that - it does happen.

As for all your other questions, I don't see anything there that would affect your filing at all, except established residency. Residency requirement is that you live in the state the majority of the 180 days prior to your filing.

Want you may want to consider is this - if you're going to stay in AZ, the SOL has run out and you can pretty easily swat any lawsuits that come your way - if any. BK will affect your credit for up to 10 years. The baddies will all fall off your CR in 3 years or less.

Just something to think about ...

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