Credit cards, medical bills, repossessions, utility bills and most other unsecured debts are dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy . Secured debts, like mortgages or auto loans, usually can be discharged only if you are willing to surrender the property that was used as collateral. Otherwise, you can typically keep the property if you are current and continue making timely monthly payments.
However, a handful of debts cannot be eliminated in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include Student Loans, some IRS or State Income Tax Debts, Child Support or Alimony Obligations, Government Fines, and some debts ordered by a divorce decree. Congress drafted the bankruptcy laws and in their own interests made it very difficult to file bankruptcy on any government debt.
What bankruptcy options do you have if you are burdened with these non-dischargeable debts?
Individuals who have non-dischargeable debts are also often facing other financial difficulties and are in a cycle of debt that includes credit cards, loans, and other unsecured debts. One option is to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy to eliminate any unsecured debts and legally stop making any more payments to your unsecured creditors; this will free up some disposable income and allow you to focus on repaying any debts that survived the bankruptcy. Although the non-dischargeable debts will not be eliminated, the broad protection of the automatic stay may give you some protection from government creditors during the bankruptcy, absent a court order lifting the stay from the bankruptcy judge.
A second option is to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and include your non-dischargeable debts in the court monitored repayment plan. It is possible to repay only a portion of your non-dischargeable debts back while you are in the bankruptcy, but you’ll still be liable for the percentage that wasn’t paid back after the bankruptcy. The advantage is that the bankruptcy laws prevent even government creditors from garnishing your wages or harassing you while you are actively in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. With a little breathing room from your creditors and the ability to eliminate a portion of your unsecured debts, you have sufficient opportunity to increase your income or make other arrangements for repaying the non-dischargeable debts after the bankruptcy