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The discharge of debts after a bankruptcy

Washington, D.C. residents may be interested to learn about the discharge debt a person might receive after filing for bankruptcy. The discharge process can vary depending on which type of bankruptcy is used.

Generally, an individual will use either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 to discharge their consumer debt, including credit cards and mortgage debt. According to information from the United States Courts, discharge means that the person's liability for paying those debts is released. This is permanent; after a discharge there is no legal requirement for the individual to pay that debt. However, if there is a lien against a piece of property that is not discharged, the lender may have the right to sell or reclaim that property in order to recover the debt.

Debts are usually discharged under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy as soon as the period for contesting the bankruptcy is over, which is about four months after the original bankruptcy filing. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which requires a payment plan of up to five years, the remaining debts are generally discharged after the conclusion of the payment schedule. In some cases, a debtor may be able to have the debts discharged earlier by proving financial hardship.

Some debts are not eligible for discharge, however. These can include debts that the person filing for bankruptcy does not name in their filing, back taxes that the debtor owes to the government, and unpaid child or spousal support.

Understanding the specifics of a debtor's potential discharge of debt through bankruptcy may be difficult without legal assistance. An attorney may be able to assess the person's financial situation and recommend an appropriate course of action. Depending on the person's assets and income, this could include a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing or negotiation with creditors to lower payments outside of bankruptcy.

Source: United States Court, "Bankruptcy Basics", September 19, 2014

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