Bankruptcy Attorney in Michigan  

Walter A. Metzen, Michigan Bankruptcy Attorney   

Bankruptcy Attorney in Michigan

Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist

American Board of Bankruptcy Certification



If you or someone you know in Detroit, Michigan or within the surrounding cities and counties of Michigan, needs debt consolidation legal counsel or the assistance of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer, contact the Bankruptcy Law Office of Walter Metzen and Associates, today, at 800-398-3328, or use the contact form provided on this site to schedule a consultation with an experienced Michigan debt-relief lawyer.

Secured Claims and Bankruptcy

Secured claims include liens, security interests, security agreements and secured claims. An allowed claim secured by a lien on property in which the estate has an interest, or that is subject to setoff, is a secured claim to the extent of the value of the creditor's interest in the estate's interest in the property or the amount subject to setoff. A secured claim carries the right to adequate protection of collateral. Unavoided liens survive bankruptcy but circumstances may demand action by a secured creditor to protect the lien.


A claim cannot be a secured claim unless it is secured by a lien on some specific item of property in which the estate has an interest, or, alternatively, is a claim that is subject to a right of setoff. A claim may be a secured claim regardless of whether the relevant lien was created by agreement, statute, common law, equity, or judicial process.


Two Types of Secured Claims


There are two types of secured claims: (1) voluntary or consensual secured claims, each created by agreement between the debtor and the creditor and (2) involuntary secured claims, such as a judicial or statutory lien, which are fixed by operation of law and do not require the consent of the debtor. Common examples of voluntary or consensual liens include real property mortgage liens, liens arising from deeds of trust, and security interests recognized under the Uniform Commercial Code. Examples of statutory liens include federal tax liens and municipal real property tax liens.


How Secured Claims are Paid


Secured claims are paid from the proceeds of the collateral. If the collateral is insufficient to pay the claim in full, the balance becomes an unsecured claim.


Rights of Creditors


Secured debt usually includes the right of the creditor to seize identifiable property if there is a default, in addition to the promise or ability of the debtor to pay. In a Chapter 7 case, a secured creditor generally receives cash equivalent to the allowed claim or a return of the secured property.


Secured to the Extent of the Value of Collateral

The secured claim is generally considered secured only to the extent of the value of the particular collateral. If the allowed claim of the creditor is greater than the value of the collateral, the claim may be divided into a secured claim, up to the value of the collateral, and an unsecured claim for the balance.

Certain property settlements are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7, 11 or 12 bankruptcy case, but remain dischargeable in Chapter 13 cases. Support, alimony or maintenance 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 are generally not dischargeable. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as when the debtor does not have the ability to pay those debts from income or property that is not reasonably necessary to be expended for the maintenance or support of the debtor or a dependent of the debtor or when discharging the debt would result in a benefit to the debtor that outweighs the detrimental consequences to a spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor. The court uses a disposable income test and a balancing test to determine whether or not these types of property settlement claims are dischargeable


Disposable Income Test


Under the disposable income test, the court evaluates whether the debtor has the ability to pay the non-support debt/property settlement over a period of time. The court considers the following factors in determining a debtor's ability to pay the non-support debt:


  • The debtor's disposable income
  • The existence of more lucrative employment opportunities for the debtor
  • The extent to which the burden of paying the debt may be lessened in the future
  • The debtor's good faith toward satisfying the debt prior to bankruptcy
  • The amount of debts that a creditor is seeking to have held non-dischargeable and the terms and conditions for repayment
  • The assets retained by the debtor
  • Any probable changes in the debtor's future expenses
  • The amount of the debt in question


Balancing Test


The court must weigh the detriment of discharging the debt to the ex-spouse and the benefit of the discharge to the debtor. This test is used to prevent the use of bankruptcy to evade marital property settlements when the debtor does not have bona fide financial problems. The court considers various factors for the balancing test including:


  • Changes in the financial condition of the parties from the time of the divorce or separation to the filing of the bankruptcy petition
  • The relative income and worth of the parties, including the parties' assets as well as those assets of their respective spouses
  • A comparison of the parties' post-bankruptcy obligations
  • The amount and nature of the debt involved and whether a non-debtor spouse is jointly liable on the debt
  • The health, job skills, training, age, and education of the parties and their spouses
  • The number of dependents of the parties and their spouses as well as ages and any special needs
  • The amount of debt that either has been or will be discharged in the debtor's bankruptcy
  • Whether the parties have acted in good faith


If the debtor is able to carry his or her burden of proof under either the disposable income test or the balancing test then the debt will be discharged. The burden is met if it weighs in favor of the debtor by a fair preponderance of the evidence.


  •   Driver's License or State ID & Social Security card
  •   Pay Stubs for the past 2 months
  •   Copies of all Bills, Summons or Judgments against you by creditors
  •    Divorce Judgments or Decrees
  •   Real Estate Documents, Deeds, Recorded Mortgages, mortgage balance statements
  •   Property Tax Bills (SEV)
  •   Bank Statements for 3 months
  •   Recorded Mortgage and Deed
  •   Car Titles
  •   Income Tax Returns & W2 forms
    for the last 2 years