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How does discharge work in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case?

If you are considering filing for personal bankruptcy you have likely looked into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 petition for relief through bankruptcy takes many steps, including discharge.

What is discharge? Discharge is defined by the United States Courts as the process that "releases individual debtors from personal liability for most debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any collection actions against the debtor."

Essentially, this means the debt is forgiven.

Can any type of debt get discharged? Note the above definition states "most debts." There are certain types of debt that do not qualify for discharge through bankruptcy. It is important to carefully consider the role dischargeability will play in your bankruptcy petition before moving forward.

Examples of debt that generally do not qualify for relief include child support, alimony, tax debts and student loans. The failure to allow for discharge of student loan debt is a contentious issue. In some cases, an individual can overcome this general rule. Discharge of student loans may be available if the applicant can establish the loan results in an "undue hardship."

In order to establish undue hardship, the applicant must meet a three part test. The test includes a review of the applicant's income, duration of the repayment period and whether or not the individual has made a good-faith effort to repay the loans.

There are also some cases where a creditor may file a complaint objecting to the discharge. These cases are not often successful. Examples of success are present when the creditor can establish that the person seeking relief through bankruptcy has kept fraudulent records or committed perjury during the bankruptcy process.

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