Unfortunately, if the unsecured debt was included in the bankruptcy, the entire debt will be discharged upon successful completion of the chapter 7 case. Your wife, nor any other person, will be allowed to attempt to collect this debt from the debtor (your wife's son) during the bankruptcy proceeding and especially not after a discharge order has been entered in the case.
However, your wife's son can always voluntarily re-pay a debt that has been discharged in a bankruptcy case. (although I realize that it would be unlikely since he hs not paid you in over a year). But, you can't pursue any collection remedies/efforts against him at this time. I hope he decides to do the right thing and repay this personal family debt voluntarily after the chapter 7 case has been discharged and closed.
You can only submit a claim for the $1200 in small claims court IF the debt was incurred after the bankruptcy case was filed. (referred to as post-petition) If the debt was incurred pre-petition (before the case was filed) then it will be subject to discharge in your step-son's case.
Now you can attempt to proceed against him and attempt to make the argument that the $1200 was not listed in the bankrutpcy case, but you may cause more harm than good to yourself. Proceeding against your step-son for debt that is included in his bankruptcy case will be considered a violation of the automatic stay he received once the bankruptcy case was filed. Bankruptcy Court is a Federal Court and to violate bankruptcy law will be violating federal law and there are penalties for violating the automatice stay.
You should consult a bankruptcy attorney in your area, if you truly want to look into proceeding against your step-son for the $1200. Someone needs to analyze the specifics of your situation and determine whether attempting to collect the $1200 would be benenficial and/or legal.
On first impression, it would appear that it was your step-son's intent to include what he believed to be the total amount of debt owed to you and/or his mother as of the date of filing the petition. Furthermore, if you wanted to pursue the claim while the bankruptcy case is open, you will have to file it in bankruptcy court or request permission from the bankrutpcy court to proceed against your step-son in the small claims court. The test is when the debt was incurred. Only debt incurred before the case was filed will be discharged. Your step-son will be responsible for any debts incurred post-petition. Therefore, if the $1200 was incurred post-petition, then you can try to collect. However, if it was incurred pre-petition, it will be discharged in the chapter 7 case.
Yes, you can pursue recovery of your debt by filing a lawsuit in the bankruptcy court and ask the Judge to not allow the discharge of your debt. Lawsuits filed in bankruptcy court are called "adversary proceedings". However, you should have an attorney in your area review the complete facts of the case and determine which cause of action(s) should be pursued against your step-son, if any. A nonexclusive list of adversary proceedings is set forth in Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure No. 7001.
I hope you found this information helpful.
DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.
The responses above are from individual Experts, not JustAnswer. The site and services are provided “as is”. To view the verified credential of an Expert, click on the “Verified” symbol in the Expert’s profile. This site is not for emergency questions which should be directed immediately by telephone or in-person to qualified professionals. Please carefully read the Terms of Service (last updated February 8, 2012).