Copyright (c) 2000 Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review
Temple Political & Civil Rights Law Review
ARTICLE: "ALL THE SMALL THINGS": HOW THE BANKRUPTCY COURTS ARE AND SHOULD BE HANDLING THE MANY LITTLE REAFFIRMATION AND LIKE MATTERS BEFORE THEM
10 Temp. Pol. & Civ. Rts. L. Rev. 83
by David A. Scholl*
"Reaffirmation" is a term of art in bankruptcy law. It means a binding agreement by a debtor to pay an obligation which would otherwise be discharged, i.e., uncollectible by the creditor, as a result of the debtor's bankruptcy filing. Although the issue of bankruptcy debtors' entering into reaffirmation agreements may seem removed from the issue of political and civil rights addressed in this periodical, in fact it is not. Individual financial problems can have a profound impact upon an individual's lifestyle. Therefore, curtailment of reaffirmations, which is the subject of this article, is a political issue that affects the civil rights of many debtors.
In August 1999, I was asked by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute (PBI) to be a co-presenter of a workshop entitled "Redemption, Reaffirmation, Surrender or What? Section 521 in Consumer Cases," which was to be included in three statewide sessions of the PBI's Fourth Annual Bankruptcy Institute. Developing this program required me to articulate not only my own practices in handling reaffirmation agreements, and similar matters such as "redemption agreements," but also those of other bankruptcy judges in Pennsylvania. From this exercise I learned that my practice of conducting discharge hearings in every case involving such agreements, even if the debtors were represented by counsel executing the requisite affidavits of approval, and frequently disapproving such agreements, was unique in this state.
This article attempts to answer two questions that arose from this experience. The first, voiced by several ...
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