Will I Have to Pay Any of My Debts After Bankruptcy?

By Cara O'Neill, Attorney
Find out which debts survive bankruptcy.

Possibly. You could find yourself left with debt after your case is over because not all obligations go away in bankruptcy. Here’s a list of nondischargeable debts (debts that don’t get wiped out) that you’ll remain responsible for after a Chapter 7 case:

  • overdue child support
  • alimony or spousal support
  • student loan debt
  • tax debt (although you can sometimes wipe out old taxes), and
  • payments related to injuries you inflicted on another person while driving intoxicated.

(You can find out more about debt that remains with you after your bankruptcy by reading Nondischargeable Debts: Debts You Can’t Discharge in Bankruptcy.)

It works differently in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Except for your student loan, you’ll have to pay the entire balance of your nondischargeable debt in your Chapter 13 repayment plan. Your student loan is an exception because it’s considered a long-term debt, meaning that when you took out the loan, the creditor expected you to make payments over an extended period. Because long-term debt (such as a mortgage payment) is exempt from the full payment requirement, you’ll resume paying your usual monthly payment (or the payment amount currently due) after completing your bankruptcy.

(Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharges more bills than a Chapter 7 case. Learn more by reading Debt That's Wiped out in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy but Not in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.)

Be aware that if a creditor believes that you’ve committed fraud, the creditor can ask the court for an order finding that a normally dischargeable debt—such as a credit card balance or utility bill—is nondischargeable in your particular bankruptcy case. For instance, if a creditor successfully proves that you lied about your income on a credit application, or that you defrauded the utility company by rewiring the electric meter, you might remain responsible for the debt.

(Read more in What Happens to Debt Resulting from Fraud in Bankruptcy?)

Determining whether your debt will survive your bankruptcy case can be tricky. For further help, take advantage of a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer.

Go to the main bankruptcy FAQ page.

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