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What are dischargeable debts?

When you file for bankruptcy, the goal at the end is to discharge your debts. When this happens, the court rules that you no longer have a legal obligation to pay the debts.

However, not every debt you have is a dischargeable debt. The U.S. Courts explain that the Bankruptcy Code dictates the treatment of each type of debt depending on which chapter of bankruptcy you file. If your bankruptcy does not discharge a debt, then you still owe it and the creditor can use any legal method to collect it.

Public policy

Under the Bankruptcy Code, there are some general debts that you cannot discharge as a matter of public policy. These are debts that you incurred in a specific way or that are due to negligence on your part, such as money owed to someone who suffered an injury due to an auto accident you caused.

Chapter 7

The debts you cannot discharge under Chapter 7 include any type of support you pay to a former spouse or for the care of your children, past-due taxes, court damage awards for your negligent acts, government debts, educational loans and fees for housing in a cooperative or condominium. You also cannot discharge any debt you did not include in your bankruptcy forms.

Chapter 13

Chapter 13 has more dischargeable debts. For example, you can discharge court damage awards under Chapter 13. The flexibility is because you may repay some of the debt under your repayment plan. The court will simply dismiss the remaining balance. However, just as with Chapter 7, if you do not include debts in your paperwork, you cannot discharge them.


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