Date of Award:

2004

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Jean M. Lown

Abstract

The purpose of this study was two-fold. The first intention was to identify a group of debtor characteristics that predicted discharge among Chapter 13 bankruptcy filers in the district of Utah from 1997. The second objective was to use that same set of characteristics to predict the likelihood of dismissal at three critical stages of the bankruptcy process. Those stages were identified, first, as the period before the 341 hearing or meeting of creditors (n = 115 or 12.7%), second, before confirmation of the debtor's repayment plan (n = 267 or 29.4%), third, the period after confirmation of the plan and before discharge (n = 286 or 31 .5%). Once the best group of characteristics was discovered, the effects of demographic characteristics were compared against those of economic debtor characteristics as predictors of the outcome of the Chapter 13 cases. The results of the study show that demographic characteristics were, in general, better predictors than economic factors of the disposition of the Chapter 13 cases within the sample. Discharged and dismissed debtors were found to have statistically significantly different levels of certain types of debts based on pairwise t-test results. Although limited to one district, this study was the first to examine the likelihood of dismissal at three stages of bankruptcy prior to discharge. The study concluded that single debtors, debtors with children, debtors with previous bankruptcies, and those with higher levels of mortgage arrears were the most likely to be dismissed before completion of their repayment plan. Plan completion was generally achieved by those with higher job tenure and debtors with a mortgage. The results of the study support arguments against changes in current bankruptcy law and warrant further investigation of low Chapter 13 repayment plan completion rates in the district of Utah.