What Bankruptcy Judges Can't Touch

A home in foreclosure is seen in Pasadena, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2008. The median home price in a six-county region of Southern California plunged more than 13 percent in December from the same month a year ago, as the national housing slump kept eating away at home values, a real estate research firm said Tuesday.
AP Photo/Nick Ut
Before their kids were even born, Kevin and Sherrie Floyd laid the foundation for their future.

They bought a house 13 years ago and thought they'd never leave, CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy reports.

"We were doing fine but I got injured at work and that kind of set things back," Kevin said.

They refinanced, but payments on their adjustable-rate mortgage soon adjusted right out of reach.

"So when you refinanced your payments were $3,200?" Tracy asked.

"Right," the couple nodded.

"What are they today?" Tracy asked.

Now their payment is $4,300.

Their lender refused to work with them. Facing foreclosure, the Floyds declared bankruptcy, hoping to work out a payment plan to save their home.

"I didn't want it to come to this but we had no choice," Kevin said.

Here's what's interesting: If the Floyds owed money on a yacht the bankruptcy judge could help ease those payments. If they had a vacation home - same thing.

But when it comes to your primary residence, home sweet home, federal law prohibits bankruptcy judges from changing your payments.

"Of all the things in the world they can change ... why not that?" said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Durbin says that giving judges that authority could prevent 600,000 foreclosures over the next two years.

"The group that is opposed to this, screaming bloody murder, is none other than the mortgage bankers," he said. "The same people who brought us the subprime mortgage mess."

"We think Sen. Durbin is off base on that comment," said David Kittle, head of the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Kittle says changing the law would drive up mortgage rates and increase bankruptcy filings.

"It is onerous legislation. It will harm consumers - all consumers going forward who want to buy single family homes," Kittle said.

So far, attempts to change the law have failed, but some lawmakers say they won't give up.

The Floyds are now trying to find a place to rent. But with their credit ruined, every application has been rejected.

"I just feel real bad about it. It really hurts to be honest with you," Kevin said.

With their home being auctioned off next month, the family of seven will need to build a new foundation.