What Is Lien Stripping in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy


Chapter 13 bankruptcy is itself a powerful tool that can help people achieve freedom from debt, but another powerful tool it can offer debtors is called lien stripping. This tool provides bankruptcy filers with an important means to manage secured debts that may otherwise overburden their finances.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at what lien stripping entails, how it works, and its implications for debtors.

What Is Lien Stripping?

Lien stripping is a legal process available in Chapter 13 bankruptcy that allows debtors to remove certain types of liens from their property. This primarily applies to junior liens or second mortgages on real estate. In essence, lien stripping converts a secured debt into an unsecured one, potentially reducing the overall amount owed and making it more manageable for the debtor to repay.

How Does Lien Stripping Work?

Lien stripping is typically used when the value of the property securing the junior lien is insufficient to cover the debt owed on the first mortgage.

Here's how it works:

  • Determining eligibility: Qualification for lien stripping requires that the value of the property must be less than the balance owed on the first mortgage. This situation commonly arises in declining real estate markets or after a significant decrease in property value.
  • Filing a motion in court: The debtor or their bankruptcy attorney files a motion with the bankruptcy court requesting lien stripping. This motion outlines the details of the case, including the value of the property, the balances owed on each mortgage, and supporting evidence of the property's current market value.
  • Confirmation of repayment plan: If the bankruptcy court approves the debtor's Chapter 13 repayment plan, which may include provisions for lien stripping, the process moves forward. Creditors have an opportunity to object during this stage, but if there are no valid objections, the court confirms the plan.
  • Completion of repayment plan: Throughout the repayment period, the debtor makes regular payments according to the approved plan. Once the plan is successfully completed, any remaining unsecured debts, including those subject to lien stripping, may be discharged, providing the debtor with relief from those obligations.

Why Debtors Should Consider Lien Stripping

Lien stripping can offer significant benefits for debtors struggling with underwater mortgages or multiple liens on their property.

Some key considerations for debtors include:

  • Reduced debt burden: By converting a junior lien into an unsecured debt, lien stripping effectively reduces the total amount owed by the debtor. This can result in more manageable monthly payments and a faster path to debt relief.
  • Protection of assets: Lien stripping helps debtors retain ownership of their property by eliminating junior liens that would otherwise threaten their equity. This is particularly valuable in situations where the property's value has declined significantly.
  • Long-term financial stability: Chapter 13 bankruptcy, with the added advantage of lien stripping, provides a structured framework for debt repayment. By successfully completing the repayment plan, debtors can rebuild their credit and work towards a more stable financial future.

Do You Need Help with Bankruptcy?

Lien stripping in Chapter 13 bankruptcy can be a lifeline for homeowners facing overwhelming debt and the threat of foreclosure. By removing junior liens on real estate, debtors can regain control of their finances and protect their most valuable assets. However, navigating the complexities of bankruptcy law requires careful consideration and expert guidance.

If you're considering Chapter 13 bankruptcy and believe lien stripping may benefit your situation, it's essential to consult with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney who can assess your options and guide you through the process. With the right support, you can take decisive steps toward a brighter financial future.

Contact Buchalter & Pelphrey Attorneys At Law for assistance with any bankruptcy-related matter.