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In Re Scantling.

In August 2012 Judge Williamson of the US Bankruptcy Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, gave Florida homeowners a golden ticket to strip wholly unsecured second mortgage liens in Chapter 20 cases.

Never heard of Chapter 20 bankruptcy?  Chapter 20 is a slang term that is used when debtors file a Chapter 7, receive their discharge of debt, and later fall behind in mortgage payment which triggers having to file a Chapter 13 to avoid foreclosure. 

If the Chapter 13 is filed within 4 years of the Chapter 7 filing debtors will not be eligible for a discharge of debt BUT the unsecured second mortgage lien can be removed from the property.

If the Chapter 13 is filed AFTER 4 years of the Chapter 7 filing debtors will be eligible for a discharge of debt provided their Plan is successfully completed.  This means the second mortgage lien can be stripped and the lien's status will be changed from secured to unsecured.

What's the advantage of waiting for discharge eligibility?  Stripping the second mortgage lien often results in Plan payments being lower (in some cases substantially lower) thus increasing the chances of successful completion of the Chapter 13 Plan which will result in a complete discharge of debt.

Here is Judge Williamson's decision  (pdf doc) should you care to read it.

This case has not been overturned by the Appeals level .

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