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Your circumstances have changed - debt relief orders

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

The decision to grant a debt relief order (DRO) is based on your circumstances at the time you apply. If those circumstances change at all during the DRO period, there are certain things you must do, including a duty to tell the official receiver.

This page explains what you must do if your circumstances change, and what could happen if you don't follow the rules.

What is the DRO period?

The DRO period is the twelve months from the date when the debt relief order (DRO) is made by the official receiver. During this time you musn't make payments towards most types of debts listed in the DRO and you're subject to certain other restrictions. This period may also be called the moratorium.

What to do if your circumstances change

Changes of circumstances may include:

  • any increase in your income after you make the application or during the DRO period
  • any additional money or valuables that you come to own, such as money left to you in a will.

If either of these happen from any point after you've made your application and up to the end of the DRO period, also called the moratorium, you must report this to the official receiver.

You also have a duty to report any of the following changes of circumstances to the official receiver, even if the moratorium period is over:

  • anything that you realise was wrong in your DRO application
  • anything you realise you missed out from your DRO application
  • if you realise that you didn't actually qualify for a DRO because something changed between making your application and the official receiver making the DRO.

How to tell the official receiver about a change of circumstances

When your DRO was made, you will have received a letter from the official receiver confirming this. The letter will contain contact details of the official receiver who made the order. You should use these details to contact them. Although you can tell them over the telephone, it's better to put it in writing and keep a copy, to avoid any problems later.

If you don't have these details, you can contact the Insolvency Service directly to find out how to inform the official receiver of your change of circumstances.

Your DRO adviser can also help you to contact the official receiver.

Will you have to pay your debts if your income has increased?

If your income increases during the DRO period, it may put you in a position where you're able to make contributions towards your creditors. This might mean that the official receiver could stop or revoke your DRO. If this happens near the end of your DRO, the period can be extended for up to three months to let you come to an arrangement with your creditors before the DRO is revoked.

What happens if you don't tell the official receiver?

If you don't tell the official receiver of a change of circumstances, you will be a committing an offence. The actions that could be taken against you include:

  • your DRO could be taken away from you or revoked, meaning you'd have to make arrangements to deal with your debts, including any interest or charges that have been added since you applied for the DRO
  • you could be charged with a criminal offence, which could lead to a fine or even prison
  • you could have a debt relief restrictions order made against you, which would extend the period of time during which you may be affected by certain legal restrictions on your financial situation, and possibly your work situation, for up to 15 years.

Next steps

Other useful information

The Northern Ireland Insolvency Service Enquiry line
Tel: 028 9054 8531 (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm, except bank holidays)
Email: insolvency@detini.gov.uk
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