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.

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?

References

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Florida Bankruptcy Laws and Civil Judgment

Most debt resulting from civil judgments -- such as judgments relating to consumer and business debt -- can be discharged when you file for bankruptcy in Florida. There are some exceptions, but those are mainly limited to judgments for fraud, domestic support obligations or intentional acts.

Will I Receive Notice to Vacate After a Bankruptcy Is Discharged?

Your landlord may not automatically evict you from your apartment just because you sought bankruptcy protection from your creditors. Your ability to keep your apartment depends on the type of bankruptcy that you file, the status of your rent payments to your landlord, and whether you keep your lease. Bankruptcy, however, does not prevent your landlord from removing you from the rental unit if eviction procedures were initiated before you filed your bankruptcy petition.

What Won't Be Dismissed in Chapter 7

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, often called liquidation bankruptcy, a debtor's non-exempt assets are sold to pay the debtor's creditors. Often, a debtor has no non-exempt assets -- or not enough to cover his debts. In such cases, the debtor's remaining, unpaid debts can be discharged, or erased, by the bankruptcy court. Not all debts, however, can be discharged.

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