- The bankruptcy automatic stay stops most collection activity – no more lawsuits, collection calls, foreclosure or garnishments.
- Chapter 13 gives you time to catch up on important debts like home loans and vehicle loans.
- And you get to eliminate your responsibility on certain debts…forever in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.
The Bankruptcy Discharge Offers a Fresh Start for Debtors
This elimination of your responsibility to pay debts is called a discharge. And because it eliminates your responsibility forever – it’s been coined the “Fresh Start”.
What You Need to Know About the Bankruptcy Discharge
But there are some important things you need to know about a bankruptcy discharge.
1) A Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge is personal. This means that if you file a bankruptcy case but a co-borrower on one of your debts does not, your bankruptcy discharge is NOT going to eliminate the co-borrower’s responsibility to pay the debt.
For example, if you and your spouse are joint borrowers on credit cards, and only one spouse chooses to file the bankruptcy, the credit card companies will still be able to sue and attempt to collect from the non-filing spouse.
2) There are some types of debts that are NOT dischargeable, meaning that, despite the filing of a bankruptcy case, your responsibility to pay the debt remains.
Some types of “nondischargeable” debts are alimony, child support and maintenance, certain taxes, fraudulently obtained credit, money, property or services, and debts for death or personal injury caused by operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
This is a sampling of debts that cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy case.
Debts like credit cards, medical bills, some tax debts, home loans and vehicle loans (if you don’t want to keep the related property anymore) are dischargeable.
I analyze my clients’ debts to determine if any are non-dischargeable and if so, I look for legal ways to convert them into dischargeable ones.
3) The bankruptcy discharge can be a life-renewing event. But it’s only available to debtors who play by the rules. You have duties and responsibilities as a debtor –such as disclosing information about your financial circumstances and not taking actions against your creditors that are wrongful under the law.
A qualified bankruptcy attorney will guide you so that you may do your best to follow the rules. So be sure that you pick the right one for your situation. Choose a qualified bankruptcy attorney who knows the law and has your best interests in mind.
4) If you’ve already received a Chapter 7 discharge in the past and find yourself in need of filing again, you must wait 8 years in order to file another Chapter 7 case or 4 years in order to file a Chapter 13 to receive a subsequent discharge. If you’ve received a Chapter 13 discharge in the past, you must wait 6 years to file a Chapter 7 case or 2 years in order to file another Chapter 13.
When people come to my office looking for solutions to their debt problems, bankruptcy is just one of many options that we can explore. I never push anyone into filing bankruptcy. And I don’t even recommend it if it’s not the best path for them.
5) A debtor must take a financial management briefing before the end of a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case in order to receive a discharge. This briefing must be taken with an approved agency. You may find a list of approved agencies on the US Trustee Program’s website. This course is normally available online, over the telephone and in person and can take about 2 hours to complete. This is one of the last steps you’ll have to take before getting your discharge – your fresh start.
Your Bankruptcy Discharge Gives You a Clean Slate
A bankruptcy discharge really is the light at the end of the tunnel for those who truly need it. And the best way of getting the most benefit from a discharge, without jeopardizing your chances of receiving it, is to select a qualified bankruptcy attorney who you can trust to counsel you properly. If you need help with your debt problems, please feel free to call me, St. Louis Attorney Nancy Martin, today at (636)536-5355 or contact me online. We’ll talk about how a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may give you a fresh start.
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[learn_more caption=”St. Louis Bankruptcy Attorney” state=”open”] Nancy Martin is a St. Louis, Missouri attorney and consumer bankruptcy lawyer who helps people file Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. To find out more about bankruptcy and other debt relief alternatives, contact us online or by phone at (636) 536-5355. The office is located at 150 North Meramec Avenue, Suite 400, St. Louis, Missouri 63105.
We help people in St. Louis, St. Charles, Chesterfield, Ballwin, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights, Ladue, Manchester, Kirkwood, Webster Groves, Wildwood, Bridgeton, Fenton, Eureka, Ellisville, Des Peres, Clarkson Valley, and Frontenac. This includes the municipalities within St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jefferson County, Franklin County, Warren County, and Lincoln County.[/learn_more]