“Success means having the courage, determination,
and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be”

– George Sheehan

Keith and Alice’s background: Keith and Alice had purchased their property a few years ago. Keith had borrowed some extra funds to renovate the house, and to put some extra cash towards their wedding and honeymoon.

Keith had been working in the mining industry and his salary was covering his minimum monthly debt repayments.

Unexpectedly, the mine that Keith was working at closed down. He was given a redundancy payout. Thinking that he would find another job relatively quickly, Keith used some of his redundancy payout to pay down some of his unsecured debt. He also made some advanced repayments on the mortgage.

The debt: After 6 months of trying to find similar work, Keith’s redundancy money was gone. The couple then began to rely on Keith’s credit cards to pay their living expenses and make repayments for other debts.

The request for help: Recognising that they were getting further in debt with only one income, Keith filed for hardship with his lenders and received a 3-month repayment holiday from most of them.

The couple managed to keep their mortgage repayments up to date with Alice’s income, but as the hardship period drew to a close, they realised that they couldn’t make Keith’s normal minimum monthly repayments if Keith remained unemployed.

The options with increasing debt: Once the mine shut down, all of the local jobs went with it. Keith looked for jobs interstate, even searching for fly in/fly out work, but couldn’t catch a break. Out of desperation he took a job located closer to home. While Keith was thankful to be employed again, the new job paid half of what he was earning previously.

Keith’s unsecured debt was now sitting at $120,000. His new salary of $75,000 wasn’t going to be enough to service the normal repayments and the couple’s living expenses.

Keith and Alice had thought about selling their property, but since the mine closed down, the value of their house had also fallen. Their mortgage balance was $420,000, but their property was now only valued at $460,000.

The decision to file for bankruptcy: After the costs of selling, the couple would likely only be able to pay Keith’s debt down to around $80,000. Making minimum payments on this remaining debt would still be difficult.

After careful consideration, Keith decided to file for bankruptcy.

How bankruptcy helped Keith and Alice move forward

  • The whole $120,000 of unsecured debt was cleared. Because all of the unsecured debt was in Keith’s name, only he filed for bankruptcy
  • The couple didn’t lose any of their household contents, furniture or super as they were protected in bankruptcy.
  • Keith and Alice were also able to retain their car. They were paying off a car under finance with $30,000 owing. The car was only worth $20,000, so they continued to service the car loan payments and were able to retain the vehicle. They also owned a second car as a ‘run around’. It was valued at $5,000 and, as this was their only vehicle asset and worth less than the prescribed limit, it was protected in bankruptcy
  • Keith was required to make some contributions to his bankrupt estate. However, with a salary of $75,000, they were minimal at less than $100 a month
  • Keith’s interest in the property was not protected in bankruptcy, so it vested in his trustee. After the market value of the property was established, the trustee determined that Keith’s interest in the equity came to around $22,500. Alice made a formal offer to purchase the trustee’s interest in the property ($22,500) and once the transaction was complete, Keith and Alice’s home was no longer an asset of Keith’s bankrupt estate. This allowed them to retain it, provided that the mortgage repayments were made.
  • The newlyweds were able to stay together. Although Keith’s wage was reduced, he was working close to home. This gave him and Alice the opportunity to really cement their marriage
  • The couple were able to retain their home