Some filers enter into bankruptcy with collection cases already at judgment level, with the hope that these judgments along with their other debts can be discharged through bankruptcy. However, getting a judgment discharged is not always so simple, and it depends on a number of factors, including:
- What kind of case the judgment was for; and
- Whether the creditor who has the judgment over the debtor has already placed a lien on the individual’s property.
Bankruptcy Discharge for Most Judgments
Generally, a judgment from a lawsuit involves unpaid debts. If the bankruptcy filer has not paid his or her medical bills, personal loans or credit cards, the next step for the unpaid creditor is usually filing a lawsuit against the borrower. If a judgment is obtained, the creditor can garnish the borrower’s wages or even go after a personal asset and have a lien placed on it to satisfy the outstanding debt.
Filing for bankruptcy activates what is known as the automatic stay, giving the filer reprieve from further collection calls and attempts. It can also put a stop to wage garnishment and can wipe out the borrower’s obligation to pay back certain debts, even in a judgment. Once a bankruptcy case is filed, if a collections lawsuit is pending, the automatic stay in the bankruptcy will put a stop to the lawsuit. Even if a judgment has been entered against the borrower, the final discharge in the bankruptcy case will get rid of that judgment for most purposes, except in certain cases. If the judgment is for a debt that is considered nondischargeable, the bankruptcy will not get rid of the debt.
Some debt is non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. If the creditor has gotten a judgment against the bankruptcy filer for a debt obligation that includes one of the following debts, a bankruptcy discharge will not get rid of that judgment. These categories include:
- Judgments connected to domestic support obligations, including child support or spousal support/alimony;
- Judgments for criminal penalties, fines and/or restitution;
- Most tax judgments;
- Most student loan obligation judgments;
- Judgments for any debts that were acquired under false pretenses or by fraud;
- Judgments for injuries that were willful and malicious caused by the debtor; and
- Judgments for any injury or death that was caused by the debtor’s drunk driving.
If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.