Law Office of Gail L. Hills

Which Debts Do I Still Owe After Bankruptcy?

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When your bankruptcy is completed, many of your debts are “discharged.”  This means they are canceled and you are no longer legally obligated to pay them.

However, certain types of debts are NOT discharged in bankruptcy.  The following debts are among the debts that generally may not be canceled by bankruptcy:

* Alimony, maintenance, or support for a spouse or children.

* Student loans.  Most student loans are not canceled by bankruptcy.  But you can ask the court to discharge the loans if you can prove that paying them is an “undue hardship.”   Occasionally, student loans can be canceled for reasons not related to your bankruptcy when, for example, the school closed before you completed the program or if you have become disabled.  There are also many options for reducing your monthly payments on student loans, even if you can’t discharge them.  For more information, look at the NCLC Guide to Surviving Debt or go to the Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project website at

* Money borrowed by fraud or false pretenses.  A creditor may try to prove in court during your bankruptcy case that you lied or defrauded them, so that your debt cannot be discharged.  A few creditors (mainly credit card companies) accuse debtors of fraud even when they have done nothing wrong.  Their goal is to scare honest families so that they agree to reaffirm the debt.   You should never agree to reaffirm a debt if you have done nothing wrong.  If the company files a fraud case and you win, the court may order the company to pay your lawyer’s fees.

* Most taxes.  The vast majority of tax debts cannot be discharged.  However, some older tax debts can be discharged. This can be a complicated issue, so if you have tax debts, you will need to discuss them with your lawyer.

* Most criminal fines, penalties and restitution orders.  This exception includes even minor fines, including traffic tickets.

* Drunk driving injury claims.