What types of debts are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy?

Certain debts are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy proceedings. Understanding which debts are non-dischargeable is critical before moving forward with either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  Domestic support obligations are one category of non-dischargeable debts for purposes of bankruptcy.

One Wisconsin man recently learned the hard way that domestic support obligations can include attorneys’ fees for his ex-spouse. Following protracted litigation with his wife over divorce and custody issues, Christopher Trentadue was ordered to pay his ex-wife’s attorney $25,000. Instead of paying her though, Mr. Trentadue filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection to avoid the debt.

Domestic support obligations (DSOs) are defined in the Bankruptcy Code as being “in the nature of …support…of such spouse, former spouse, or child of the debtor or such child’s parent…”

In re Trentadue

In the case Trentadue v. Gay (In re Trentadue), Mr. Trentadue argued that because the debt was payable to the attorney and not to his ex-wife, that it did not qualify as a domestic support obligation. The Seventh Circuit rejected Trentadue’s argument as to the wrong payee because he had not made the argument in the lower court. However, the court emphasized the intent of the state court in awarding the attorneys’ fees and determined that the ruling was not made as a punishment, but rather, as a means of support to his ex-spouse.

Other Non-Dischargeable Obligations

Regardless of the state you live in, federal laws govern your bankruptcy proceeding. Most exceptions to discharge can be found in 11 U.S.C. Section 523.  Common non-dischargeable obligations include:

  1. Certain tax debts
  2. Child support, alimony, or other family support obligations
  3. Personal injury damages that resulted from a DUI
  4. Student Loan debts, except in cases of undue hardship
  5. Fines for violating laws, including traffic tickets
  6. Debts that you forget to include in your bankruptcy application

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Special Cases

If you’re filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, there are certain debts that a judge may determine are non-dischargeable. These can include things like:

  1. Any debt obtained via fraud, embezzlement, or theft.
  2. Debts incurred from malicious injury to another person or their property.
  3. Cash advances from consumer credit over $750 obtained within 70 days of the order for relief.
  4. Debts incurred for luxury items totaling more than $500 within 90 days before the order for relief.

Thinking About Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy can provide a fresh start, but it’s best not to make it a DIY project. Consulting with a skilled bankruptcy attorney can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. The award-winning bankruptcy attorneys of Hanson & Payne can easily assess your financial situation and provide expert guidance on what your options are. Contact us today or call (414) 271-4550 for a consultation.


Here Are Three Of Donald Trump’s Full Bankruptcy Filings

What can other people find about my bankruptcy?

Like most people, Donald Trump wants to keep his financial records private.  While Mr. Trump’s finances may or may not have implications on public policy matters, ordinary people like you and me can generally remain anonymous when it comes to our P&L statements and net worth.  That is, until we file for bankruptcy.

Trump Company Bankruptcies

Despite Mr. Trump’s attempts to shield his financial information, BuzzFeed recently got ahold of the bankruptcy filings for three of Trump’s companies. These mid-1990’s filings have shed some light on the $916 million loss reflected in a portion of Mr. Trump’s financial documents published by the New York Times.

Bankruptcy Filings Are Public Records

Some may be surprised by the fact that hundreds of pages of financial documents and court records have been made available online for all to see. The truth is, bankruptcies are a matter of public record and are available to anyone who knows where to look.

While most people know that a personal bankruptcy like Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies will appear on your credit report, they don’t know that almost all of the documents that you filed with the court are also available to those who want to know. The easiest way for people to get ahold of your bankruptcy filings is through a site called PACER (short for Public Access to Court Electronic Records).

What Information Can People See?

Essentially, anyone who looks up your bankruptcy in PACER can see all of the documents filed with the court, with sensitive information like social security numbers and financial account numbers blocked out.  This means that people can see how much money you had in your bank accounts at that time, what assets you had and what debts you had incurred.

Additionally, in every bankruptcy proceeding, there is what’s known as a 341 Meeting where creditors may show up and contest the dissolution of the debt.  These are public meetings that anyone may attend.

Finally, your name may appear in your local newspaper in the public notices section at some point during your bankruptcy process.  If you live in a town where the local government publishes these public notices on a special channel, then your name may appear on TV as well.

How Likely Is My Information To Get Out?

For people not in the public eye, it is highly unlikely that others will actively seek out your bankruptcy information. Some exceptions include employers who may need to do background checks on their employees and landlords who want to better understand the financial situation of their tenants.  While some background checks merely include surface information like the fact that you did file for bankruptcy, if people want to go deeper and know where to look, they can gain access to your entire filing.

In reality, most people file for bankruptcy in relative anonymity.

Having an experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side can help minimize exposure down the road. If you have questions about your financial situation, contact Hanson & Payne today at 414-271-4550.