What Can I File Under Bankruptcy: Understanding Your Options

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Are you facing overwhelming financial burdens? Are you unsure of what steps you can take to alleviate your debt? Bankruptcy might be an option worth considering. In this article, we will delve into the world of bankruptcy and provide you with a comprehensive understanding of what debts can be filed under bankruptcy. By the end, you will have a clearer picture of whether bankruptcy is the right path for you.

Understanding Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a legal process designed to help individuals and businesses struggling with insurmountable debt. It provides a fresh start by either eliminating or restructuring debts. There are different types of bankruptcy, with the most common being Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of assets to repay creditors, while Chapter 13 allows individuals with a regular income to create a repayment plan. To file for bankruptcy, certain eligibility criteria must be met, including passing a means test to determine your income level.

What Debts can be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

One of the primary benefits of bankruptcy is the discharge of debts. However, not all debts can be discharged. Let’s take a look at the types of debts that can be included in your bankruptcy filing:

  1. Credit Card Debts: If credit card bills have become unmanageable, bankruptcy can provide relief by discharging these debts.
  2. Medical Bills: Medical expenses can quickly accumulate, causing financial strain. Bankruptcy can help eliminate these debts and provide a fresh start.
  3. Personal Loans: Whether it’s a loan from a family member or a financial institution, personal loans can be discharged through bankruptcy.
  4. Utility Bills: If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills, bankruptcy can help eliminate these debts.
  5. Overdue Rent: If you’re facing eviction due to unpaid rent, bankruptcy may provide a solution by including these debts in your filing.
  6. Lawsuit Judgments: If you’ve been sued and have accumulated significant judgments, bankruptcy can discharge these debts.
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It’s important to note that there are limitations and exceptions to debt discharge in bankruptcy. For example, certain tax debts, student loans, child support, and alimony obligations are typically not dischargeable. However, there may be exceptions in specific circumstances, so it’s crucial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to understand your options fully.

What Debts cannot be Discharged in Bankruptcy?

While bankruptcy offers relief for many types of debts, certain obligations cannot be discharged. It’s essential to be aware of these debts before filing for bankruptcy:

  1. Student Loans: In most cases, student loans cannot be discharged in bankruptcy unless you can prove undue hardship, which is challenging to establish.
  2. Child Support and Alimony: Bankruptcy cannot eliminate your obligation to pay child support or alimony.
  3. Recent Taxes: Generally, recent tax debts (within the last three years) cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.
  4. Criminal Fines and Restitution: If you owe fines or restitution as a result of criminal activities, these debts are not dischargeable.
  5. Debts from Fraudulent Activities: If you incurred debts through fraudulent activities, such as credit card fraud, these obligations may not be dischargeable.

It’s crucial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to fully understand which debts can and cannot be discharged in your specific situation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I file bankruptcy if I have assets?

Yes, you can still file for bankruptcy even if you have assets. The type of bankruptcy you file will determine how your assets are handled. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, non-exempt assets may be sold to repay creditors, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows you to keep your assets while repaying debts through a structured plan.

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How long does the bankruptcy process take?

The duration of the bankruptcy process depends on various factors, including the type of bankruptcy, complexity of your case, and court schedules. Generally, Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes approximately three to six months, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy can last three to five years due to the repayment plan.

Will bankruptcy affect my credit score?

Yes, bankruptcy will have a negative impact on your credit score. However, if you’re considering bankruptcy, your credit score may already be affected by delinquent payments. Bankruptcy provides an opportunity for a fresh start, and with time and responsible financial management, you can rebuild your credit.

Can I file bankruptcy without an attorney?

While it’s possible to file for bankruptcy without an attorney, it’s highly advisable to seek professional legal guidance. Bankruptcy laws are complex, and a qualified attorney can help navigate the process, ensuring your rights are protected and maximizing the benefits you may receive.

Can bankruptcy stop foreclosure or repossession?

Yes, filing for bankruptcy can provide an automatic stay, which temporarily halts foreclosure, repossession, and other collection efforts. This stay gives you time to assess your options and work towards a resolution.


In conclusion, bankruptcy can be a viable option for individuals and businesses drowning in overwhelming debt. By understanding what debts can be filed under bankruptcy, you can make informed decisions about your financial future. However, it’s crucial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney who can assess your unique circumstances and guide you through the process. Remember, bankruptcy is not the end; it’s an opportunity for a fresh start and a path towards regaining control of your financial well-being.

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