One of the reasons people file for bankruptcy is to get a “discharge.” A discharge is a court order that states that you do not have to pay most of your debts. Some debts cannot be discharged. For example, you cannot discharge debts for:
- Most taxes
- Child support
- Most student loans
- Court fines and criminal restitutions
- Personal injury caused by drunk driving or under the influence of drugs
The discharge only applies to debts that arose before the date you filed. Further, if a judge finds that you received money by fraud, the debt will not be discharged.
You can receive a Chapter 7 discharge once every eight years. Other rules may apply if you previously received a discharge in a Chapter 13 case. No one can make you pay a debt that had been discharged, but you can voluntarily pay any debt you wish to pay. Some creditors hold a secured claim (for example, the loan company that has a lien on your car). You do not have to pay a secured claim if the debt is discharged, but the creditor can still take the property.