now-action-list Changes in Bankruptcy Law Bad News for Women (fwd)

P. Myers (
Fri, 24 Apr 1998 10:51:39 -0700 (PDT)

Pat Myers

"To live dangerously is to live
in the Borderland, where desire,
justice and love meet."
                    Henry Giroux

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 10:31:55 -0400
From: National Organization for Women <>
Subject: now-action-list Changes in Bankruptcy Law Bad News for Women
Resent-Date: Fri, 24 Apr 1998 10:15:21 -0700

Feel free to forward the following to activists in its entirety or with
proper attribution:

>From the National Organization for Women Action Center:


Once again Congress is poised to make changes in the law without having
determined what the usual, it is women with young children who will bear
the negative consequences.  Proposed changes in U.S. bankruptcy laws will
place credit card issuers on an equal footing with child support and
alimony obligations in bankruptcy. These means that it will be even more
difficult to collect past due support or alimony payments.    
A final-mark-up for the so-called Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1998 (H.R. 3150)
in the House Judiciary Committee is planned for Thursday, April 23rd and
expectations are that it will be favorably reported out of committee. The
measure is sponsored by Rep. George Gekas (R-PA) and 39 co-sponsors.  A
floor vote may follow soon thereafter. The Senate counterpart -- although
somewhat more moderate -- is slated for a hearing on Tuesday, April 28th
before the full Judiciary Committee. Entitled the Consumer Bankruptcy
Reform Act of 1997 (S.1301, it is sponsored by
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).  It is for this
hearing and the pending Senate action that women's advocates are urged to
take action by opposing S. 1301. 

The intent of both bills is to make access to bankruptcy harder and to
change payment priorities for those in bankruptcy.  During 1997, an
estimated 243,000 to 325,000 bankruptcy cases involved child support and
alimony orders, based on data collected from 16 judicial districts around
the country.  In about half of these cases, women were creditors trying to
collect alimony and child support from their bankrupt ex-partners.  About
the same number of women filed for bankruptcy themselves as they tried to
stabilize their precarious post-divorce economic condition. According to a
study by bankruptcy experts at Harvard and the University of Texas, well
over a million women collecting alimony and child support have been
involved in bankruptcy cases.  

Current bankruptcy law gives these women priority in collection because
alimony and support obligations are not dischargeable  -- that is, these
debts cannot be erased.  The proposed legislation would put credit card
issuers in line with child support and/or alimony obligations to be paid
first, before all other creditors.  Often there are limited dollars
available for discharge of debt in bankruptcy and the effect of the
legislation, if passed, will be to make it less likely that past due child
support payments will be paid.  And, it will also mean that ex-husbands
will find it harder to keep current on monthly child support and alimony

It is noteworthy that the National Bankruptcy Review Commission declined to
support any of the proposed changes, with three of the Presidential
appointees to the commission speaking out against the proposals. For a more
detailed analysis of the legislation, please contact Jan Erickson,
Government Relations Director, National Organization for Women, at (202)
331-0066, ext. 768.

In the meantime, please call, fax or e-mail the following Senators: John
Breaux (D-LA), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), both of whom are pressing for the more
onerous House version.  Also, contact Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Biden
(D-DE), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Russ Feingold (D-WI),
Robert Torricelli (D-NJ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA).
Connect to for senator's email
addresses or for other contact

For a copy of NOW's news release on our new Initiative on Sexual
Harassment, the Burlington Industries v Ellerth case, and our decision to
not file an amicus brief in the Jones v. Clinton case, see

If you would like to receive these news releases by email, connect to or send a message to
with the message
    subscribe news-releases
To unsubscribe, send a message to with the text:
     unsubscribe now-action-list or connect to
Please *do* unsubscribe yourself before cancelling your e-mail account.

Visit the NOW Web site at
Please support these efforts by joining NOW.  You can do so on our Web
site.  Our Web site also has an online catalog with clothing, books, calendars,
and computer accessories.