Christopher L. Hawkins

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Chris Hawkins represents clients in a wide variety of bankruptcy and insolvency-related matters across the country. He represents debtors and creditors in out-of-court business restructurings and chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. Chris represents creditors and financial institutions in bankruptcy-related litigation. He devotes a substantial portion of his practice to advising large financial institutions on bankruptcy compliance matters and bankruptcy-related regulatory matters. View articles by Chris

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Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: 5 Significant (if Temporary) Amendments to the Bankruptcy Code Resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic

As we cross the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, we reflect on the multiple amendments to the Bankruptcy Code that have been implemented to help curb the effects of various economic shutdowns and financial hardships caused by the coronavirus. These Bankruptcy Code amendments are only temporary, but Congress is considering extending them to facilitate … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: Chapter 13 Bankruptcy — Consumer Bankruptcy with a Payment Plan

Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides relief only to individuals with regular income. This Chapter is most frequently used by debtors who have sufficient disposable monthly income to make some payments over time to their creditors. Chapter 13 debtors frequently have enough equity in their residence that, if they were to file for Chapter 7, the residence … Continue Reading

Bradley’s Bankruptcy Basics: A Multimedia Series

Bankruptcy. The arrival of that notice stating a customer has filed for bankruptcy can evoke less-than-ideal responses: forwarding the notice to someone else who might know what to do with it (resulting in the notice ending up in a forever loop of being forwarded along); immediately writing off the account and cutting your losses; or, … Continue Reading

Four Significant Changes to Consumer Bankruptcy Included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021

On December 21, 2020, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA 2021). Similar to the March 2020 CARES Act, several temporary changes to the Bankruptcy Code are included in Title X of the CAA 2021. Below, we examine four of the CAA 2021’s most significant changes to consumer bankruptcy laws. These changes are temporary … Continue Reading

Top 10 Changes to Consumer Bankruptcy Proposed in the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2020

On December 9, 2020, Congressional Democrats, including Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), proposed sweeping legislation that would overhaul consumer bankruptcy law. The proposed changes generally make it easier for consumers to access the bankruptcy system and discharge their debts. Below is a discussion of 10 critical changes proposed in the Consumer Bankruptcy Reform … Continue Reading

Tenth Circuit Agrees with the Fifth Circuit – Private Student Loans May be Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

The 10th Circuit has joined several circuit courts holding that private student loans are dischargeable in bankruptcy. In McDaniel v. Navient Solutions, a case of first impression in the 10th Circuit, the court concluded that an educational loan does not constitute “an obligation to repay funds received as an educational benefit” under Section 523(a)(8)(A)(ii) of … Continue Reading

Having Trouble with CARES Act Forbearances in Ch. 13 Bankruptcy? You’re Not Alone!

Guest Author: Karlene A. Archer of Karlene A. Archer Law P.L.L.C. Consumers that have pending Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases undoubtedly suffered from financial hardship prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of those consumers, the pandemic may have exacerbated that hardship. The CARES Act’s mortgage forbearance provisions allow some breathing room for consumers that anticipate … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Holds That an Order on a Motion for Relief from Stay Is a Final, Appealable Order

In a unanimous opinion released last week, the Supreme Court provided guidance as to how to determine the finality of an order in a bankruptcy case for purposes of an appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 158(a). The Court held that the adjudication of a creditor’s motion for relief from stay is properly considered a discrete … Continue Reading

Bankruptcy Court Rejects Brunner “Myth” and Discharges $220K in Student Loan Debt

Chief Bankruptcy Judge Cecelia Morris in the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District recently reinterpreted Brunner’s “undue hardship” test and discharged over $220,000 in student loan debt. This opinion reflects a marked departure from a series of cases interpreting Brunner, a case that has guided the analysis of student loan dischargeability for over 30 years. … Continue Reading

The Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019: Will the Increased Debt Limit Lead to an Uptick in Chapter 12 Filings?

The United States Senate passed the “Family Farmer Relief Act of 2019” (H.R. 2336), which substantially increases the debt limit for agricultural producers seeking to file for relief under Chapter 12 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The bipartisan legislation, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives in June and is expected to be signed … Continue Reading

Student Loans in Bankruptcy: What’s on the Horizon?

Federal law has long excepted student loans from discharge in bankruptcy in all but the rarest instances, recognizing the problems (and costs) associated with allowing borrowers to wipe out defaulted debts through a bankruptcy filing. However, as the issues of access to college and affordability become frequent topics in political discourse, new ideas for radical … Continue Reading

Where a “Fair Ground of Doubt” Can Create Comfort: Taggart v. Lorenzen

In a unanimous, and perhaps unsurprising, decision, the Supreme Court determined that a creditor may be held in civil contempt for violating the discharge injunction if there is “no fair ground of doubt” as to whether the creditor’s conduct was barred by the order placing that injunction.  The Supreme Court declined to adopt the standard … Continue Reading

The ABI Commission’s Final Report on Consumer Bankruptcy Issues: What Mortgage Creditors Need to Know

We previously provided you with some of the American Bankruptcy Institute’s Commission on Consumer Bankruptcy’s recommendations to improve the consumer bankruptcy system. As the commission noted, changes in bankruptcy law occur slowly. The last major amendments to the Bankruptcy Code were in 2005, and the last major amendments to the Bankruptcy Rules were in 2011. … Continue Reading

Part IV: Navigating the Maze of Servicing Discharged Debt

Part IV: Modifications Post-Discharge Welcome to Part IV of our series on servicing discharged mortgage debt. This part will discuss modifying a borrower’s loan post-discharge. (If you missed Part I, Part II or Part III, go ahead and catch up.) Part III discussed the legal ambiguity surrounding loan modifications when the borrower discharges personal liability in … Continue Reading

Application of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in Bankruptcy

On October 17, 2018, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its Fall 2018 rulemaking agenda. Among the items on the agenda was the CFPB’s planned issuance – by March 2019 – of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The goal of the NPRM is to address … Continue Reading

CFPB’s New Servicing Requirements for Borrowers in Bankruptcy Likely to Cause Operational Challenges – Attend Part 3 of Our Webinar Series to Learn More

The CFPB’s recent amendments to the mortgage servicing rules in Regulations X and Z will soon force servicers to significantly change the way they currently do business. Without limitation, the amended mortgage servicing rules fundamentally change how servicers are required to interact and communicate with borrowers in bankruptcy by imposing certain periodic billing statement requirements … Continue Reading

Chapter 7 Debtors Cannot Strip Off Junior Liens on Underwater Home Loans, United States Supreme Court Rules

This morning, the United States Supreme Court ruled that debtors in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases cannot “strip off,” or completely void, junior mortgages that—based on the value of the property and the amount of claims secured by senior mortgages—are completely underwater. This ruling eliminates a potential means for Chapter 7 debtors to maximize the relief … Continue Reading
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