Many Florida residents are under the impression that once they have filed for bankruptcy and their debts have been “discharged” they are no longer liable for those debts. This is not always the case as there are certain debts that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This is especially important for people to know before they begin the process of filing for bankruptcy.
Each chapter of the bankruptcy code specifies which debts are dischargeable and which are not. Section 523(a) of the Bankruptcy Code lists the types of debts that generally cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. This means that even after the debtor has prevailed in bankruptcy court, if the debts have not been discharged, then the debtor is still responsible for paying those debts. According to the Code, these non-dischargeable debts are exempt from discharge for reasons of public policy.
If a debt falls into one of the exempted categories in Section 523(a), then it is usually automatically removed from the discharge and the debtor remains obligated to pay those debts. Most commonly, those are child support and alimony debts, some tax debts, debts that the debtor failed to disclose to the court during the application process, most federal student loan debt, personal injury claims against the debtor for DUI-related incidents and personal injury claims against the debtor for willful or malicious damage to a person or to property.
Some of the debts listed in Section 523(a) are not automatically removed from the classification of dischargeable debts. If the debts are those that could be the result of fraud or malicious conduct, the court has to make a determination about the presence of fraud or malice before ruling that those debts are non-dischargeable. The duty is on the creditor to ask the court for such a determination. If the creditor fails to timely make such a request then those debts may be discharged.
If you have questions about the discharge of certain debts, contact a us at (904) 685-1200.