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Eastern District of North Carolina Bankruptcy Court Opinion on Special Circumstances

Published June 23, 2014 by Sasser Law Firm

Eastern District of North Carolina Bankruptcy Judge Randy Doub ruled in the Hurst case on June 20, 2014 that unusually high commuting expenses (70 miles for husband and 95 miles for wife) were not sufficient to show special circumstances such that the presumption of abuse triggered by application of the means test could be rebutted. The opinion noted that Congress created the special circumstances provision for circumstances for which there is no reasonable alternative to allow for certain adjustments to current monthly income or additional expenses. The 2 statutory examples of a serious medical condition or a call or order to active duty in the Armed Forces indicated that special circumstances should be construed as uncommon, unusual, exceptional, distinct, peculiar, particular, additional or extra factors or conditions. The opinion stated that most debtors would not be able to meet that high standard. Where a presumption of abuse exist in a chapter 7 case the debtor can seek to show special circumstances but may also want to explore other steps to avoid the presumption being triggered or may want to consider a chapter 13 filing.

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