Discharge of Debts in Bankruptcy

Orlando, Florida, Bankruptcy Lawyers

Most people who file bankruptcy do so to discharge their debts. A discharge is a court order, which states that you do not have to pay a debt.

Some debts virtually cannot be discharged. For example, you typically cannot discharge debts for:

  • Most taxes
  • Child support
  • Alimony
  • Student loans
  • Personal injury lawsuit judgments caused by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

Discharge of debts through bankruptcy only applies to debts that arose before the date you filed. Also, if the judge finds that you received money or property by fraud, that debt may not be discharged.

You can only receive a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge once every eight years. No one can make you pay a debt that has been discharged, but you can voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay. You do not have to sign a reaffirmation agreement or any other kind of document to do this.

Some creditors hold a secured claim (for example, the bank that holds the mortgage on your house or the loan company that has a lien on you car). You do not have to pay a secured claim if the debt is discharged, but the creditor can still take the property.

It is important to list all of your property and debts in your bankruptcy petition. If you do not list a debt, that debt may not be discharged.

The judge can deny your discharge if you do something dishonest in connection with your bankruptcy case, such as destroy or hide property, falsify records or lie, or if you disobey a court order.

What is a reaffirmation agreement?

Even when you can discharge a debt, you may have special reasons why you want to promise to pay it. For example, you may want to work out a plan with the bank to keep your car. To promise to pay that debt, you must sign and file a reaffirmation agreement with the court. Reaffirmation agreements are governed by special rules and are entered into voluntarily. They are not required by bankruptcy law or by any other law. Reaffirmation agreements:

  • Must be voluntary
  • Must not place too heavy a burden on you or your family
  • Must be in your best interest
  • Can be canceled anytime before the court issues your discharge or within 60 days after the agreement has been filed with the court, whichever gives you the most time

If you are an individual and you are not represented by an attorney, the court must hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the reaffirmation agreement. The agreement will not be legally binding until the court approves it.

If you reaffirm a debt and then fail to pay it, you owe the debt the same as though there was no bankruptcy. The debt will not be discharged and the creditor can take action to recover any property against which it holds a lien or mortgage. The creditor can also take legal action to recover a judgment against you.

If you want more information or have questions about how the bankruptcy laws affect you, you may need legal advice. The trustee in your bankruptcy case is not responsible for giving you legal advice.

Free bankruptcy consultation: Call 407-896-3077 or fill out our contact form to discuss your case with a Florida bankruptcy attorney at no charge.

BACK TO TOP