Generally people file chapter 7 bankruptcy if they have a large amount of unsecured debt such as credit card debt or medical expenses that they are no longer able to pay. Often unemployment, unexpected medical expenses, or divorce cause the debtor to seek protection from creditors by filing chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, sometimes called a straight bankruptcy is a liquidation proceeding. The debtor turns over all non-exempt property to the bankruptcy trustee who then converts it to cash for distribution to the creditors. The debtor receives a discharge of all dischargeable debts usually within four months. In the vast majority of cases the debtor has no assets that he would lose so Chapter 7 will give that person a relatively quick “fresh start”.
Under the federal bankruptcy statute, a discharge is a release of the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. In other words, the debtor is no longer required by law to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge operates as a permanent order directed to the creditors of the debtor that they refrain from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.
Even if you receive a general discharge, some particular debts are not discharged under the law. Therefore, you may be responsible to pay for most taxes and student loans; debts incurred to pay non-dischargeable taxes; domestic support and property settlement obligations; most fines, penalties, forfeitures, and criminal restitution obligations; certain debts which are not properly listed in your paperwork; and debts for death or personal injury caused by operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft while intoxicated from alcohol or drugs. Also, if a creditor can prove that a debt arose from fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or theft, or from a willful or malicious injury, the bankruptcy court may determine that the debt is not dischargeable.