Whether you file a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy you can discharge your federal student loan debt — if you can prove that repaying your loans will cause you and your dependents an undue hardship.
What's an undue hardship?
That's hard to say.
Each court defines it differently using different tests.
Many courts use the Brunner test.
Other courts use the totality-of-the-circumstances test.
And still, others use a combination of the two or some other test altogether.
No matter which test is used, the basic question the court is trying to answer is this:
Can you maintain a minimal standard of living for you and your dependents while repaying your student loan debt?
Whether you can convince a court you have an undue hardship is difficult to guess. The answer depends on a host of factors that are specific to you and the judge you're appearing before.
That said, no matter your facts and no matter your judge, the process for getting a judge to make that decision is the same: filing an adversary proceeding.
Click here to learn How to Discharge Federal Student Loans in Bankruptcy
An adversary proceeding is simply a lawsuit specific to bankruptcy practice.
Like any lawsuit, you have to file a complaint that tells the court:
- who you're suing
- why you're suing them and
- what you're asking the court to do
What does that look like in practice?
There's no one way it has to look. So long as your complaint meets the minimum requirements and follows the courts' rules, you'll be fine.
That said, it's always helpful to have an example to help get you started.
Also, here's an actual court order from a successful student loan bankruptcy case where the court applied the Brunner test and determined the debtor had an undue hardship.