Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding in which a person who can not pay their bills gets a fresh financial start. The right to file for Bankruptcy is provided by federal law. Filing Bankruptcy immediately stops your creditors from seeking to collect debts from you, at least until they are sorted out according to the law. Bankruptcy may make it possible for you to:
- Eliminate the legal obligation to pay most or all of your debts
- Stop foreclosure on your house or mobile home
- Allow you an opportunity to catch up on missed home and car payments
- Prevent repossession of a car or other property
- Force a creditor to return property even after it has been repossessed
- Stop pending and potential lawsuits
- Stop wage garnishment
- Stop harassing collection calls
- Restore or prevent termination of utility service
- Allow you to challenge the claims of creditors who have committed fraud or who are otherwise trying to collect more than you really owe
- Remove a second mortgage or HELOC (in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy)
What Bankruptcy Can Not Do
Bankruptcy can not, however, cure every financial problem. Nor is it the right step for every individual. In bankruptcy, it is usually not possible to:
- Eliminate certain rights of ”secured” creditors. A creditor is ”secured” if it has taken a mortgage or other lien on property as collateral for a loan. Common examples are car loans and home mortgages. You can force secured creditors to take payments over time in the bankruptcy process and bankruptcy can eliminate your obligation to pay any additional money on the debt if you decide to give back the property. But you generally can not keep secured property unless you continue to pay the debt.
- Discharge types of debts singled out by the bankruptcy law for special treatment, such as child support, alimony, most student loans, court restitution orders, criminal fines, and most taxes.
- Protect cosigners on your debts. When a relative or friend has co-signed a loan, and the consumer discharges the loan in bankruptcy, the cosigner may still have to repay all or part of the loan.
- Discharge debts that arise after bankruptcy has been filed.
For more details, review the information on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcies.