How long does a bankruptcy stay on my record?

If one’s “record” means on his credit reports:  Chapter 7 bankruptcies remain on credit reports for 10 years, whereas Chapter 13 bankruptcies generally remain for 7 years.

Will I lose my home if I file for bankruptcy?

There are many factors that impact the ability to keep your home, including:

o The equity you have in your home (value exceeding liens)
o The status of your mortgages (current or in foreclosure)
o The type of bankruptcy you're filing

What can I keep, if anything, if I file bankruptcy?

Exemptions allow an individual to "exempt", or keep, certain kinds of property. State law defines what assets are considered "exempt," but typically include:
o Jewelry
o Vehicles up to a certain amount
o Equity in a home up to a certain amount
o "Tools of the trade" or tools and equipment necessary to allow the individual to continue working

Can all types of debt be discharged?

No. The debts that can't be discharged vary slightly between the different chapters of bankruptcy. Generally, the following cannot be discharged:
o Debts for taxes owed to local, state or federal agencies (but there are important exceptions to this!)
o Debts for money, property, services, or an extension, renewal, or refinancing of credit, which was obtained fraudulently
o Debts that weren't in the initial list of debts or that the debtor waived being cancelled
o Debts owed to a spouse, former spouse, or child, for alimony, maintenance, or support of a spouse or child, with a separation agreement, divorce decree or other order of a court of record
o Debts owed for injury to another person or property owned by another (as in a court judgment)
o Debts for any educational loans, unless it can be shown that repayment will cause an undue hardship
o Debts for death or personal injury caused by the debtor's drunk driving or from driving while under the influence of drugs or other substances (as in a court judgment)
o Debts incurred after a bankruptcy was filed
o Any type of criminal fine or restitution

Does my divorce decree protect me from creditors if my ex files for bankruptcy?

No. A divorce decree is an agreement or order between the two divorcing parties. In regard to debts, it spells out who is ultimately responsible for each debt. However, if both parties are responsible before divorce, the creditors can still go after either or both parties. The divorce decree would allow a party who had to pay a debt for which the other was responsible the right to recover payment.
• So, if a divorce decree provided that H must pay Y, where both spouses are indebted to y, Y can still sue W and presumably win. W would then have the right to sue H to recover what she paid to Y.
• And, consider that in a community property state such as Washington, most debts incurred by either spouse during marriage while living together make both spouses liable.

What’s a joint petition?

A joint petition is when an individual and a spouse file a single petition.  Unmarried partners must file separate cases.