Can You File Bankruptcy if You Already Have Judgments Against You?

By Anna Assad

Filing for bankruptcy can protect you from creditor actions, such as wage garnishment -- and may free you from some debts. You can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which eliminates certain debts, or for Chapter 13, debt repayment, if you already have judgments against you. Whether you can get rid of a judgment in bankruptcy depends on the debt type.

Filing for bankruptcy can protect you from creditor actions, such as wage garnishment -- and may free you from some debts. You can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which eliminates certain debts, or for Chapter 13, debt repayment, if you already have judgments against you. Whether you can get rid of a judgment in bankruptcy depends on the debt type.

Judgment Exclusions

Federal law doesn't allow the discharge of certain debts in bankruptcy. You can't remove judgments involving fraud, theft, or embezzlement on your part. For example, if you stole from an employer and later got a judgment against you for the amount you took, you can't remove it in bankruptcy. Judgments from other debts you can't eliminate include spousal and child support awards, income tax debts, criminal fines and penalties or fees you owe to a government entity, and student loan debt. You can't get rid of court judgments against you for harm you deliberately caused to someone else or injury and death related to your drunk driving in bankruptcy either.

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What Happens to Judgments in Bankruptcy?

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