We’ve written a series of blog posts answering common questions regarding Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Wisconsin and how it impacts your finances. Call (262) 827-0375

Can IRS Debt Be Discharged in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a legally codified financial process designed to help individuals facing overwhelming debt and economic difficulty. It allows qualified persons to pay off their debt in a structured manner over three or five years. The purpose of Chapter 13 is to help debtors regain control of their finances while repaying as many creditors as possible.

Chapter 13 repayment plans are designed to be manageable and are based on income, assets, type of debt, living expenses and an individual’s general financial situation. Chapter 13 repayment plans cover personal debt and certain business debt, as well as tax debt and money owed to the IRS. Each debt’s financial and legal status and how it needs to be repaid depends on that obligation’s specific terms, details and relevant laws and regulations.

How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Differ from Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires individuals to sell off assets to meet their financial needs and obligations, Chapter 13 allows debtors to keep most of their property as long as they meet the conditions of their bankruptcy repayment plan. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is considered harsher and more disruptive to a person’s life as it often requires extensive liquidation. Chapter 7 is primarily for insolvent individuals with low incomes or high amounts of unsecured debts they can’t realistically pay back.

Conversely, Chapter 13 allows individuals with stable incomes to repair and improve their financial situation without losing their assets. Chapter 13 bankruptcy offers debtors a month-to-month repayment plan to manage their finances better, pay off existing debt, cover living expenses and achieve a fresh financial start. For otherwise financially healthy individuals, Chapter 13 generally offers a much better solution than Chapter 7 bankruptcy because it allows debtors to maintain their daily lives as they pay off their debt obligations in a slow, steady, and structured manner.

Can IRS Tax Debt Be Discharged in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Many individuals struggling with personal and business debt also face challenges paying off tax and IRS debt. These tax debts can include current tax obligations as well as back taxes. Chapter 13 provides a path for paying off or eliminating tax debt as part of the structured repayment process. The good news is that in some instances, debtors may not need to repay all tax or IRS debts in full. Chapter 13 can sometimes fully or partially discharge IRS and general tax debt, depending on the situation.

The IRS collects many types of taxes, including personal and corporate income, payroll, estate, gift, and excise taxes. For many individuals in Chapter 13, IRS personal income tax debts are the primary concern. However, it’s essential to understand every tax obligation concerning the IRS and overall Chapter 13 proceedings.

How Are IRS Income Tax Debts Treated in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

How IRS income taxation debts must be repaid typically depends on whether the tax obligation is a priority or nonpriority tax debt. Priority debts and taxes must always be paid in full during the Chapter 13 process. On the other hand, nonpriority taxes may only need to be partially repaid as they are grouped with other unsecured debts such as credit cards and medical bills.

Unsecured nonpriority creditors each share and receive payment from the discretionary income portion of a Chapter 13 repayment plan. Discretionary income is the monthly amount that remains in a debtor’s payment plan after deducting allowed living expenses such as house and car payments.

Because each nonpriority debt receives only a limited part of the finite, remaining discretionary monthly income, some nonpriority debts – including nonpriority tax and IRS debts – will not be fully paid off when an individual completes the three or five-year Chapter 13 repayment timeline. These unpaid nonpriority debts, which can include nonpriority tax and IRS debts, will be permanently discharged and eliminated once the Chapter 13 bankruptcy payment plan concludes.

What Are Nonpriority Taxes?

Taxes are classified as nonpriority if they meet the following conditions:

The taxes are on income or gross receipts.

The tax deadlines (including legitimate extensions) were at least three years before the individual filed for bankruptcy.

The individual filed tax returns at least two years before they filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If the individual did not file a tax return on time or the IRS filed a substitute one, those taxes may be considered priority.

The IRS formally assessed the tax as a liability at least 240 days before the individual filed for bankruptcy.

The individual did not commit unlawful tax fraud or invasion during the corresponding tax year.

Individuals who meet the conditions above may have certain IRS debts treated as nonpriority, meaning they can be fully or partially discharged upon completing the Chapter 13 repayment plan. However, if the conditions are not met, the outstanding tax obligation will be treated as a priority debt and must be fully repaid.

What Are Priority Taxes?

By definition, priority taxes are any taxation debts that do not qualify as nonpriority taxes. This category can include recent income and any taxes that don’t fulfill nonpriority requirements. However, certain IRS tax obligations are always priority taxes. IRS priority taxes that need to be paid in full during Chapter 13 repayment include:

Trust fund taxes, including Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA), Medicare, Social Security and any other federal income that employers withhold from their employee’s paychecks

Excise taxes on certain goods, activities or transactions, such as those related to alcohol, tobacco, gasoline, firearms and environmental regulations

Penalties such as Trust Fund Recovery Penalties (TFRP), late filing and late payment penalties, fraud penalties, penalties for underpayment of estimated taxes and other penalties for non-dischargeable taxes

Fraudulent or erroneous refunds or credits on non-dischargeable taxes

Secured debts such as tax liens filed by the IRS against the properties of individuals who owe significant tax payments.

Priority federal taxes must be paid in full to the IRS, along with any applicable fees and penalties. Individuals must also pay any additional priority taxes to the relevant taxing authorities.

In most cases, debtors must speak with their bankruptcy attorney or personal accountant to determine what counts as a priority or nonpriority tax and how best to proceed with Chapter 13 repayment. The Chapter 13 process is extremely helpful for individuals struggling with personal, business, general taxation and IRS debt. However, it can also be complicated and specific, so hiring an appropriate tax, legal or financial bankruptcy professional is always advisable. The good news is that under the right circumstances, it is possible for individuals to partially or fully discharge tax and IRS debt and move forward into a brighter and healthier financial future.

Does Bankruptcy Erase Utility Bills?

The decision to file for any form of bankruptcy is not easy, but if you are dealing with unmanageable or overwhelming debt, bankruptcy is a way to gain some financial breathing room. If you owe a great deal on past due utility bills, a chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you liquidate these debts. A chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you restructure these debts. If you’re facing a utility shutoff, it’s important to file before that happens.

Utility Bills Are an Unsecured Debt

Unlike a debt that is backed by collateral, such as your home or your car, a utility bill is an unsecured debt. If you have made a deposit on your utilities, you may lose it in the process of filing for bankruptcy.

However, you will be protected against shutoff once you file. You may be required to pay an additional deposit after filing. If this is left unpaid, it is possible that you may face a utility shutoff. Work with your bankruptcy attorney to make sure you pay at least the required minimum deposit, post-filing, to keep your lights, heat and water turned on.

The information regarding your unpaid utility bills will be applied to your means test. Because you have to pass a means test to qualify to file bankruptcy, it’s critical that you have all of this information with you when you and your attorney work through the filing information. Your bankruptcy filing process will be less painful if you have all of your debt information included in the filing.

Do I Have to List Unpaid Utility Bills When I File for Bankruptcy?

Because utility bills are an unsecured debt, they need to be included in your bankruptcy filing. Depending on the type of bankruptcy you’re filing, you may be required to restructure the debt and pay at least a portion of it back.

Once you’ve filed for either a chapter 7 or a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’ll be protected from the calls of creditors. You’ll also be protected from shutoff. You should be protected from these accounts being sent to collections, though outstanding debts that have been sent to collections will still need to be addressed.

Will Filing for Bankruptcy Wipe Out Unpaid Utility Bill Debt?

If you file a chapter 7 bankruptcy, it’s likely that your unpaid utility bill debt will be completely wiped out. As noted above, you may lose your previously paid deposit and you may be required to pay another one in the time allotted after you file for bankruptcy.

If you file a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the unpaid utility bills may be included in the restructure of your debts. Previously paid deposits may be retained by the utility company and another may be required, but you will have time to address the debts.

For those who are being contacted by utility companies for unpaid debts, one of the biggest benefits of any bankruptcy filing is that those call will now be directed to your bankruptcy attorney’s office, rather than your home.

Understanding the Protections of Each Form of Bankruptcy

Chapter 7

A chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as a liquidation bankruptcy. You can get free of the pressure of unsecured debts, such as credit cards and utility bills, but you will not be protected from repossessions. If your income is simply not enough to cover your bills and your possessions are not extensive, filing a chapter 7 is a fairly quick way to get out from under the pressure of that debt.

There is an income restriction for those who choose to file a chapter 7. You will need to present information about your income from all sources as well as your debts when you start your filing process.

Be aware that a chapter 7 will stay on your credit record for 10 years. It should not take more than 6 months to file and complete the steps of a chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13

When you file a chapter 13 bankruptcy, you’re asking for a chance to restructure your debt while getting protection from your creditors. You will be protected from repossessions and foreclosures, but you will be required to participate in a repayment program that will tie up any extra income for up to 5 years.

As a general rule, filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy is the best option for higher income filers. If you’re working to save items bought with secured debt, such as your home and vehicles, a chapter 13 bankruptcy can give you time and a structure. Depending on your location, you will be allowed to keep a vehicle to get to work and your home in the restructure.

A chapter 13 bankrupty will take longer to file; you will need to complete the repayment process to fully discharge your chapter 13. This bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 7 years.

In the process of filing a chapter 13, you will be provided with guidelines of what monies from your income you can keep for your use. The cost of the repayment plan can be challenging. These restrictions on your spending and your repayment plan will last from 3 to 5 years.

Because the repayment plan can be quite onerous, it’s important to be sure that you’re ready to undertake this effort. For solo filers, the hard work of a chapter 13 can be a source of tremendous stress. For couples, working through a chapter 13 bankruptcy can put a lot of pressure on the relationship.

Keeping the Lights On

If you’re facing overdue bills that you can’t pay and are dealing with the threat of shutoff, it’s worth considering a chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. The overall amount of your debt, both secured and unsecured, needs to be carefully considered before you file. The value of the possessions you need to protect will also come into play, and your income will have a large impact on the form of bankruptcy you choose to file. Your attorney can help you make the best decision for your financial future.

Things Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not cover

Many Americans are in debt. That’s the conclusion reached in multiple studies, including one from Motley Fool, a private financial and investing advice company based in Alexandria, Virginia. It revealed the average household debt was reportedly $101,915 as of the end of 2022 and that American households collectively carry over $17 trillion in debt as of the second quarter of 2023. While that is alarming, there is some good news insofar as most Americans recognize how much debt they carry and are slowly trying to dig themselves out of that debt. As of the writing of this article, the debt payment-to-income ratio is around 9.6% in America.

For those who might not know what that means, the average American spends over 9% of their monthly income on debt payments. For most people, that is manageable and does not markedly disrupt their lives. However, for others, it can mean the difference between being able to put food on the table and not being able to put food on the table. When debt becomes too much to handle, many families file for bankruptcy.

How To Decide Between Filing Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 will negatively impact an individual’s credit; the difference comes down to how long each will remain on their credit report. According to Bankrate, a consumer financial services company in New York City, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which erases most unsecured debts, such as medical bills, credit card debt, and personal loans, remains on an individual’s credit report for seven years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, meanwhile, which allows individuals to keep their property and repay debts over time, typically 3 to 5 years, stays on their credit report for seven years. While Chapter 7 bankruptcy sounds like the more appealing of the two since it erases one’s unsecured debts, it only benefits low-income households. High-income households will have to go with Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead.

Not All Debt Is Dischargeable Debt: The Truth About Filing Bankruptcy

While it would be nice to have all of our outstanding debt discharged or included in a structured repayment plan, some debts don’t qualify for either. And those debts are known as non-dischargeable debts. Having made that distinction, examples of dischargeable debts, also known as unsecured debts, include the following:

• Auto accident claims
• Business debts
• Collection accounts
• Credit card charges
• Most civil court judgments
• Unpaid rent payments and money owed under lease agreements
• Past-due utility balances
• Personal loans
• Repossession deficiency balances from auto loans
• Unpaid medical bills
• Unpaid taxes and related tax penalties

Now that we are up to speed on dischargeable debts, let’s discuss their non-dischargeable counterparts. According to Wisconsin bankruptcy attorneys, non-dischargeable debts, which are applicable when someone files Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 in Milwaukee or anywhere else in Wisconsin, include the following:

• Alimony and child support payments
• Debts incurred from death or personal injury resulting from a DUI
• Debts not previously included in an initial bankruptcy filing
• Debts resulting from the malicious injury to individual or property
• Tax liens

It is worth noting that the above list is not all-encompassing; many other things fall under the non-dischargeable umbrella when filing for bankruptcy in Wisconsin. To that point, it is best to speak with a Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney to determine what constitutes dischargeable and non-dischargeable based on the specifics of your bankruptcy case.

Are There Alternatives To Filing Bankruptcy?

Most Wisconsinites are mindful of how badly bankruptcy can destroy their credit, and most only choose this option as a last resort. That makes sense when you consider how many alternatives there are to resolving outstanding debt that doesn’t involve ruining one’s credit for years. Studies show people who have a bankruptcy on their credit are less likely to be approved for a mortgage, car loan, credit card, or personal loan than someone who does not. And if they are approved, they generally get loans with a much higher interest rate than someone who never filed for bankruptcy. That aside, some alternatives for resolving outstanding debt while keeping your credit intact include

Negotiating With Creditors

Going through the process of securing a judgment to collect an outstanding debt from a debtor is the last thing most creditors want to do. Most would prefer to negotiate a lower monthly payment or allow the debtor to pay off the debt for a fraction of what they owe. After all, both options keep creditors out of court and at their business where they can make money.

Debt Consolidation

If you owe a lot of debt to multiple creditors, debt consolidation is another alternative to bankruptcy worth considering. For those unfamiliar with debt consolidation, it entails taking out a personal loan or borrowing against your home’s equity and using that money to pay off the balance owed on high-interest credit cards and other loans. Generally speaking, debt consolidation is a good fit for individuals with debt payments that don’t exceed 50% of their gross monthly income. And that’s according to NerdWallet, a personal finance company that prides itself on helping clients make better and more informed financial decisions. It further notes that debt consolidation is ideal for individuals who have a credit score that allows them to secure a 0% or low-interest debt consolidation loan.

Debt Counseling

If you feel like you’re in over your head in debt, debt counseling could be the financial lifesaver that keeps your head above water. In short, debt consolidation entails seeking help from a certified nonprofit credit counseling agency to help you manage your outstanding debt. The way it works is these agencies review your income versus debt and day-to-day living expenses and help you figure out a budget and a plan for getting back on track financially. Sometimes, that might entail negotiating with your creditors to lower your monthly payments or agree to a lower payoff amount to resolve your outstanding debt on your behalf. Other times, they work with you to figure out a budget that will enable you to pay off your debt as quickly as possible.

In summary, debt is part of adulting. While some people can get out of debt under their own steam, doing so can be a far more challenging proposition for others. Often, those are the ones who have to ask for help, usually from debt collection companies, debt counseling agencies, and, as a last resort, a well-versed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney.

Utility Bills & Bankruptcy

Have you ever opened your utility bill to find an unpleasant surprise? Utility bills can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

The good news is that there are laws in place to protect you if utility bills become unaffordable. You have options like payment plans, reduced rates, or, in extreme cases, declaring bankruptcy to eliminate utility bill debt.

How Utility Bills Can Lead to Debt and Bankruptcy

Utility bills are annoying monthly expenses that can add up over time if left unpaid.
• Late fees and interest charges. Most utility companies charge late fees if not paid on time, usually within 15-30 days of the due date. These fees may average $20-$50 per bill. Unpaid balances often incur high-interest charges, sometimes over 20% APR.
• Service disruption. Failure to pay your utility bills will result in service disconnection. Having your power, water, or gas shut off due to nonpayment can be dangerous and lead to additional fees to restore services.
• Damage to your credit. Unpaid utility bills are reported to the credit bureaus and will hurt your credit score. A few missed payments can drop your score by 100 points or more. Bad credit makes qualifying for loans, credit cards, and insurance difficult.

Utility Shutoff: Know Your Rights Before Services Are Disconnected

Utility companies can disconnect your services for nonpayment, but there are laws protecting consumers. Know your rights before the lights go out.

Notice Required

Utility providers must present a written notice before disconnecting services. The information will state the reason for the utility shutoff and the earliest dates it may occur.

Exceptions Made

Specific consumers qualify for protection from immediate disconnection. This includes those with medical issues where loss of service would be life-threatening.

Knowing your rights can help avoid the headache of utility shutoffs. Don’t hesitate to ask your service providers questions about managing or disputing your bills. Protecting access to essential services is important, especially if money is tight. With communication, reasonable payment plans, and exercising your consumer rights, you can stay connected even when times are tough.

How Are Utility Bills Handled in Chapter 7?

Utility bills don’t just disappear because you’ve filed for bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, any utility bills incurred before you file are considered unsecured debts and are typically discharged – meaning you are no longer legally obligated to pay them. However, any bills for service after you file must be paid on time and in full.

Falling behind on current utility bills can cause serious problems. The utility company may require a large deposit to continue or restore services. They could even disconnect your utilities altogether for nonpayment. To avoid issues, set up payment plans with your utility providers immediately after filling for bankruptcy. Be upfront about your situation, and negotiate affordable payment terms to catch up on the past due amounts.

You’ll also want to adjust your utility usage and budget. Look for ways to cut costs by lowering thermostat, turning off lights or electronics when not in use, using fans instead of AC whenever possible, etc. See if you qualify for utility assistance programs that offer discounts for low-income households.

Some individuals fear that filing for bankruptcy may make it difficult to establish new utility services. However, utility companies cannot deny you service solely due to bankruptcy. They can, however, require a deposit for new services based on your payment history and credit score. The good news is bankruptcy will not directly affect your ability to access necessities like power, water, phone, and internet.

With some practical steps, you can ensure your utility needs are met during and after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Communicate openly with your providers, reduce usage costs where possible, and utilize available assistance programs. While bankruptcy eliminates responsibility for past debts, staying current on ongoing bills and maintaining good payment habits after filing will help make the transition to a fresh financial start as smooth as possible.

How Are Utility Bills in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Handled?

When you file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, your utility bills are handled differently than other debts. Utility companies provide essential services, so they are given special treatment under Chapter 13.

How Utility Bills Are Paid

Your utility bills, like gas, electricity, water, and phone services, are considered “priority debts.” This means that you must continue paying them during the bankruptcy. Your Chapter 13 plan will specify the amounts you must pay each month. If you fall behind, the utility company will request permission from the court to disconnect your service.

To ensure uninterrupted utility service:
1. Contact your providers as soon as you file for bankruptcy.
2. Explain that you’ve filed for Chapter 13 and will continue making payments as part of your repayment plan.
3. Provide details about the amounts and due dates specified in your plan.
Most companies will work with you as long as you make the payments you agreed to.

Some utility companies may require a deposit to continue or restore services. Your bankruptcy trustee can request a waiver or reduction of the deposit as part of your repayment plan.

Budgeting for Essential Bills

When creating your Chapter 13 plan, make enough budget to cover all priority debts, including utilities, in full and on time. If payments cannot be made, contact trustee and utility providers immediately to request an adjustment to prevent disconnection.

Keeping your utility services connected during bankruptcy is critical. By communicating with your providers, paying as agreed in the plan, and making adjustments when necessary, you can ensure uninterrupted essential services while you repay creditors through your Chapter 13 plan.

Strategies to Avoid Bankruptcy When Facing Utility Debt

When facing mounting utility bills debt, bankruptcy is the only option. However, there are several strategies you can try first to avoid bankruptcy.

Payment Plans

Contact your utility providers and request payment plans to repay the debt over time. They would rather work with you than cut off the service or force bankruptcy. Ask if they offer budget billing to even out payments or if they waive late fees as you pay down the balance.

Reduce Usage

The less you use, the lower your bills will be. Turn off lights and electronics when not in use, wash only loads of dishes and laundry, unplug devices like gaming consoles, and lower thermostats in winter.

Assistance Programs

Utility companies offer assistance programs for those having trouble paying bills. They provide grants, bill payment plans, and ways to improve energy efficiency.

Filing for Bankruptcy

When utility bills start piling and you cannot pay them, bankruptcy may seem the only option. Filing for bankruptcy can provide relief from utility bills and other unsecured debts. However, it’s not a decision to take lightly and will have consequences.

Filing for bankruptcy should be an absolute last resort. While it can eliminate utility bill debts and provide relief, it will damage your credit for up to 10 years, making it difficult to open new accounts or borrow money. Bankruptcy should only be considered if you have financial hardship you can’t overcome.

High utility bills are no joke and can quickly become unmanageable, severely damaging households. While bankruptcy may seem like an easy way out, it should be the last resort. Ensure you’ve explored all your other options, like reducing usage, payment plans, subsidiaries, or loans. Your finances and credit are too essential to make this decision lightly.

Should I File for Bankruptcy if I Have Medical Debts?

Many Americans have unpaid medical bills. That’s the conclusion reached in several studies, one of which comes from the online loan marketplace LendingTree. It revealed an estimated 1 in 4 Americans have medical debt. It further pointed out that millennials account for 30% of Americans with medical debt, with 24% of Gen Xers, 22% of Gen Zers, and 13% of baby boomers right behind them. As of the writing of this article, Americans collectively owe around $195 million in medical bills. The reason for that debt varies from being uninsured or underinsured to being unemployed or under-employed and just plain bad luck, such as having claims denied by a health insurance provider, being required to pay out of pocket for non-formulary prescription drugs, and high specialist copays. Under the crushing weight of high medical bills, many Americans consider and often go through with filing for bankruptcy, which, in turn, ruins their credit.

How Much Do Americans Owe in Unpaid Medical Bills?

According to a study published by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on national health issues, of the roughly $195 million Americans collectively owe in medical debt, an estimated 6% owe at least $1,000, and around 1% owe approximately $10,000. The foundation further revealed more than half of all adults in America are in debt because of medical and, in some instances, dental bills within the last five years. While medical bills ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 might not seem like much for well-off households, it can be a tall order for the ones that are not. Historically, those not-so-well-off households are often the first to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to resolve outstanding medical bills.

Studies Show Many Americans Are Filing Bankruptcy To Escape Outstanding Medical Bills

Sadly, many Americans file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy when their medical bills become more than they can handle. That’s according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It found that nearly 66% of all personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. are due to unpaid medical bills. While filing bankruptcy does get creditors off one’s back, it can negatively affect one’s credit for ten years. The same applies to unpaid medical bills, which can negatively affect their credit for up to seven years. While we are on the topic, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau revealed roughly 43 million Americans currently have unpaid medical bills on their credit. Having a Chapter 13 or the more commonly filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, along with unpaid bills, on one’s credit can make it harder to rent an apartment or buy a home. The same applies to buying a car and, in some cases, getting a job.

Should You File Bankruptcy if You Have Outstanding Medical Bills?

According to Rishi Manchanda, a physician, author, and healthcare leader who has spent more than ten years developing strategies to improve health in resource-poor communities, the U.S. has a healthcare system almost perfectly designed to create debt. And few can argue with that assertion. After all, close to 66% of all bankruptcies filed in U.S. courts are related to unpaid medical bills. That said, when someone does not pay their outstanding medical bills, creditors are within their rights to take them to court and have a judgment filed against them. If that happens, a court can enforce any of the following to collect payment from that individual:

• A bank levy
• A real estate lien
• Wage garnishment

Filing bankruptcy can prevent creditors and even courts from trying to collect unpaid medical bills. However, it comes at the cost of ruined credit. For some people, it’s just not worth it. Fortunately, there are other options, some of which include

Negotiating a Settlement With Medical or Debt Creditors

Most hospitals, clinics, dental offices, and other healthcare providers would prefer to negotiate a settlement to resolve unpaid medical bills than to go through the trouble of securing a court judgment. This option often allows individuals to settle their debt for a fraction of what they owe without ruining their credit.

Taking Advantage of Assistance Programs

Another option for dealing with unpaid medical bills without one’s credit taking a hit is to take advantage of assistance programs, especially when it comes to unpaid hospital bills. Examples of these programs include the following:

• Affordable Care Act (ACA)
• Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
• Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA)
• Medicaid
• Medicare
• The Hospital Care Assurance Program (HCAP)

It is important to note that most of these assistance programs have eligibility requirements. Therefore, it’s best to contact the assistance program you’re interested in to confirm you meet their specific eligibility requirements.

When Filing for Bankruptcy Is the Only Option Left

Although it is far from ideal, filing for bankruptcy is a viable way to resolve unpaid medical bills if you’ve already tried other options that don’t involve destroying your credit, like assistance programs and negotiating with creditors. Bearing that in mind, individuals who file for bankruptcy in Milwaukee Wisconsin, much like other parts of the country, have two options to consider when using this legal remedy to resolve their outstanding medical bills: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Low-income households and those with assets that have very little or no equity might want to consider filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy to take care of unpaid medical bills. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a court to discharge your outstanding debt, effectively giving you a clean slate. Most people choose this option when a creditor threatens to garnish their wages, put a levy on their bank account, or have a lien placed on their home.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Generally speaking, high-income households and those with assets with substantial equity do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, they usually qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which doesn’t necessarily wipe out their debt. Instead, it allows individuals to pay all or part of what they owe via a repayment plan. Most repayment plans allow debtors 3 to 5 years to resolve their outstanding debt.

In summary, there are several ways to resolve medical debt that doesn’t involve filing for bankruptcy. However, if those options are unavailable or have already been exhausted, bankruptcy, Chapter 13 or Chapter 7, is a last resort worth considering.

Is Bankruptcy a good option to avoid home foreclosure?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals and businesses to eliminate or restructure their debts. It involves petitioning the court for protection from creditors, allowing them to wipe away certain types of debt or reorganize payment plans on outstanding debt. When filing for bankruptcy, an individual can choose between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

For individuals facing home foreclosure, filing for bankruptcy may be a good option because it can provide temporary relief from creditors while they attempt to restructure their finances. When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay is put in place, preventing creditors from initiating legal action against you. This includes stopping pending foreclosure proceedings as long as the automatic stay is in effect. It also allows time for the debtor to make arrangements with the lender, such as modifying loan terms or negotiating lower payments, so they can continue living in their home.

Types of Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of personal bankruptcy that can help you avoid foreclosure. It involves the liquidation of non-exempt assets and dischargeable debt. Any remaining balance on these debts will be eliminated, allowing individuals to start fresh with their finances. However, filing for Chapter 7 does not necessarily halt foreclosure in process. If you own your home and have equity in it, the trustee may be able to sell your property and use the proceeds to repay creditors.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is another option for individuals facing a home foreclosure. Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 does not involve liquidating assets; instead, it allows debtors to restructure their payments so they can pay off their debts over three to five years. This allows individuals to keep their homes and make payments that are more affordable for them. For instance, they can reduce their monthly payments, reduce the interest rate on their loan or even have part of the principal balance forgiven.

When Can Bankruptcy May Be a Viable Option?

Bankruptcy may be a viable option for individuals facing home foreclosure if they can prove to the court that their financial hardships are preventing them from making payments on their mortgage. This could include job loss, medical bills, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Bankruptcy should only be used as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted because of its long-term implications, such as a damaged credit report, higher interest rates and difficulty obtaining loans. Filing for bankruptcy is a serious decision that should not be taken lightly. Consult widely with financial advisors and attorneys to understand the implications of this process before moving forward.

Steps Involved in Filing for Bankruptcy

1. Gather All Necessary Documents

You must submit various financial documents, including personal income statements, bank account information and a list of creditors and assets. Ensure that all documents are current and accurate.

2. Complete the Required Forms

The court requires several forms to be completed accurately and thoroughly before your case can be considered. These forms include the bankruptcy petition, assets and liabilities schedules and a financial affairs statement.

3. File the Forms with the Bankruptcy Court

You’ll need to file your forms with the court in your local district and submit all necessary documents along with a filing fee.

4. Attend the Creditors Meeting

This meeting is held to review your case and allow creditors to ask questions. You’ll need to have all of your documents ready and a list of any debts you plan to discharge in the bankruptcy process.

5. Receive Your Discharge

Once all steps in the process have been completed and creditors have received payment, you’ll receive your discharge from bankruptcy. This document will indicate that your debts have been eliminated and you are no longer responsible.

Bankruptcy and Financial Effects

Filing for bankruptcy can have a dramatic impact on your personal finances and credit score. It will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years, making it difficult to obtain loans or credit cards in the future. Credit scores will also drop significantly, which can further delay any future attempts to borrow money. For instance, if your credit score was 700 before filing for bankruptcy, it could drop to as low as 500 afterward.

Furthermore, due to the lower credit score, you may be required to pay higher interest rates on future loans and credit cards. High interest rates can make it challenging to pay off debt. Additionally, creditors may require a co-signer or collateral for you to obtain financing. Getting a co-signer or collateral may be difficult when you’ve filed for bankruptcy.

A good credit score is still achievable after bankruptcy, but rebuilding your credit will take time and dedication. This can be done by making timely payments on existing debts, establishing new lines of credit and avoiding taking out more debt than you can afford. You can eventually recover your credit score and financial health with patience and diligence.

Alternatives to Filing for Bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy isn’t the only option when faced with overwhelming debt. Consider other alternatives such as credit refinancing, loan modification or debt consolidation. These options allow you to reduce your monthly payments and sometimes lower interest rates, helping make the debt more manageable.

Credit refinancing involves working with lenders to replace existing debts with smaller loans at a lower interest rate. The reduced payments can make it easier to pay off debt. Similarly, loan modification involves negotiating with creditors to lower interest rates or extend the length of repayment plans.

Debt consolidation involves a new loan to pay off debt at a lower interest rate. While this can make it easier to manage debt, it is crucial to understand the terms and conditions of the loan before agreeing. Some agreements may include hidden fees or other charges.

Under the loan modification option, you work with your creditors to restructure the terms of your debt such as the loan amount or repayment schedule to make it more affordable. The process usually includes providing financial documents such as pay stubs and expenses to demonstrate your current financial situation.


Filing for bankruptcy can be difficult, but if you understand the process and weigh the potential financial effects, it may be the right choice. Alternatives such as credit refinancing, loan modification or debt consolidation are also available if you need help managing your debt. Whatever option you choose, staying informed and taking proactive steps to rebuild your financial health is crucial.

Divorce Debt & Bankruptcy

A divorce’s financial and emotional strain can take its toll on anyone. One of the most frustrating aspects of dealing with a newly single life is navigating the world of finances, specifically credit card debt, taxes, and banking. The interplay between divorce, debt, and bankruptcy can be complex in the context of divorce. The timing of divorce and bankruptcy filings and the specific details of your financial situation can significantly impact the outcome. It’s essential to consult with both a divorce and bankruptcy attorney to explore your options and determine the best course of action based on your circumstances.

Divorce, debt, and marriage are interwoven aspects of our personal and financial lives that can profoundly impact individuals and families. The decision to enter into marriage involves a commitment to share love and companionship and the responsibilities and obligations of merging finances and assets. However, when marriages end in divorce, the division of debts and assets can become complex and contentious, requiring careful consideration and legal guidance.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

It is meant to help individuals clear their outstanding debt. It allows the debtor to liquidate all property, real or personal, and discharge the debt in one fell swoop. No repayment plans or repayment plans are assigned, meaning that unsecured creditors are paid in full from any money available at the time of filing.

How Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Work?

The process of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is straightforward. The debtor must file an initial petition with their local bankruptcy court, which then notifies the major credit reporting agencies and sends a notice to the debtor’s creditors. All creditors have 20 days to object to the bankruptcy; if they do so, they are given additional time to respond. The debtor then has 30 days in which to respond to these objections.

Who is eligible to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

Anyone who has unpaid debt may be eligible. This includes credit cards, medical bills, tuition/educational loans, child support, alimony, etc. Many people in these situations mistakenly believe they are not eligible because of previous bankruptcy or because they owe too little money. This is only sometimes the case, and if there are any questions about whether a person is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they should contact a lawyer immediately. For eligibility, you need to qualify in the following:

Means Test

You must pass the means test, which compares your income to the median income in your state for a household of a similar size. If your income is below the median, you generally qualify for Chapter 7. If your income exceeds the median, you may still qualify after deducting specific expenses and demonstrating an inability to repay your debts.

Previous Bankruptcy Discharge

If you have received a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case within the past eight years, you are generally ineligible for another Chapter 7 discharge. However, you may be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Here, debtors handle their debt slightly differently. Instead of liquidating all property and essentially starting over, in this process, the debtor pays back a portion of their outstanding debt over an extended period while still maintaining the majority of their assets. This allows them to retain some stability and income during a stressful time in life.

How Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Work?

The process of filing such a bankruptcy is similar to how Chapter 7 works, with the debtor setting up a repayment plan over three to five years. The debtor has one year after their Chapter 13 filing is completed to make all payments to their creditors. After this time, they are discharged from their bankruptcy and can begin seeking an unsecured loan or credit card.

Who is eligible to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the United States, you must meet specific requirements:

Regular Income

You must have a regular source of income, such as employment, self-employment, or steady income from other sources. This is to ensure that you have the means to make the monthly payments required under the Chapter 13 repayment plan.

Debt Limits

There are specific limits on the amount of debt you can have to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. These limits may vary depending on the current bankruptcy laws in your jurisdiction.

Previous Bankruptcy Discharge

If you have received a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case within the past four years or a Chapter 13 case within the past two years, you may have limitations on your eligibility for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Filing History

There are restrictions on how frequently you can file for bankruptcy. For Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there is an eight-year waiting period between discharges, while for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the waiting period between previous Chapter 13 cases is two years.

Credit Counseling

Both require credit counseling from an approved agency within 180 days of filing.


The process of filing for bankruptcy is a challenging one. It requires the knowledge and expertise of a qualified lawyer to prepare the paperwork correctly, review all pertinent information, and provide thorough assistance throughout the process. It’s important to note that bankruptcy laws and eligibility requirements can vary, and the specific criteria may differ based on your jurisdiction. Consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney familiar with your area’s laws is crucial to determining your eligibility and understanding the specific requirements you need to meet.

Navigating the complexities of divorce debt, and marriage requires a thorough understanding of legal and financial implications. It is essential to approach these matters with clear communication and open-mindedness. By seeking informed advice and making well-informed decisions, individuals can work towards resolving debt issues and ensuring a fair distribution of assets, ultimately moving forward into a new chapter of their lives with more excellent financial stability and emotional well-being.

Eliminating Tax Debt

Regarding financial well-being, no one wants the burden of tax debt to weigh them down. Whether you’re a small business owner coping with IRS liens or an individual overwhelmed by the amount they owe in back taxes, eliminating your tax bill can be daunting and confusing. This blog post provides an overview of what you need to know about getting rid of your tax debt to move forward confidently toward financial freedom.

Understanding Tax Debt

Tax arrears occurs when taxpayers owe the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) money in back taxes. Generally, this is caused by an individual needing to pay all their tax liabilities due for a certain period, either through late or nonpayment payments. Once this happens, penalties and fees can accumulate on your debts. Depending on the circumstances, a taxpayer may be able to negotiate with the IRS to reduce their debt or enter into an installment agreement.

Options for Eliminating Tax Debt

Several options are available when it comes to getting rid of tax-debt. These include:

• Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is another option for discharging tax bill. Tax bill is often considered unsecured, meaning it can be eliminated or discharged in bankruptcy. However, depending on their circumstances, this option may only be ideal for some. Individuals who file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy can have their tax debt reduced, but it’s important to remember that some taxes are not dischargeable.
• Payment Plans: The IRS offers payment plans for taxpayers who are unable to pay their full tax liability at once. These plans allow taxpayers to spread their payments over a set period, usually up to 72 months (6 years). While this option may be the best for some, it can come with hefty interest and penalties.
• Offer in Compromise: If you are unable to pay your taxes in full or via an installment agreement, the IRS may accept what is known as an “offer in compromise” (OIC). With this option, taxpayers can offer to pay less than what they owe, often in a lump sum. To be eligible for an OIC, the taxpayer must prove that paying the full amount would create undue financial hardship.
• Federal Tax Lien: In some cases, the IRS may file a federal tax lien against a taxpayer. This official claim gives the IRS the right to take property or assets to pay off a tax arrears. A tax lien can severely damage an individual’s credit score and make accessing loans or other financial products more difficult. It can also make it difficult for them to sell or transfer property. Taxpayers who have had a federal tax lien filed against them may be able to get it removed if they pay off the full debt amount or enter into an acceptable repayment plan with the IRS.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Tax

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process in which debtors can discharge most unsecured debts, including tax bill. This type of bankruptcy is designed to relieve people struggling with overwhelming debt. To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals must pass the means test. This test determines whether or not their income is below a certain level. If it is, then they can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have their tax debt discharged.

A means test entails comparing an individual’s income to the median income for their state. If their income is lower than the median, they can file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have their tax arrears wiped out. Taxpayers who don’t pass the means test might still be able to qualify if certain other circumstances are present, such as a high amount of medical expenses.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and Tax

The other type of consumer bankruptcy is Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which involves repaying some or all of your creditors through a court-approved repayment plan. With Chapter 13, taxpayers can agree with the IRS to pay back their tax bill over time. This option can be more advantageous than Chapter 7 for those who can afford to pay off some of their debt and wish to avoid having it fully discharged.

In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, creditors are paid back through a set repayment plan lasting up to five years. During this period, the IRS will cease any collection activities, and interest charges will not accrue on your debt. The court will discharge any remaining tax debt when the repayment plan is complete.

Taxpayers should understand that the IRS has the right to object to a repayment plan or any part of it, so it is important to consult a qualified attorney before attempting to negotiate or settle a tax arrears through bankruptcy.

What Happens If You Fail to File Returns Before the Creditors’ Meeting?

If you fail to file your tax returns before the creditors’ meeting, the court may grant a motion for a substitute return. This means the IRS will prepare an estimate of your taxes owed based on their available information. The court can then use this return to determine how much of your debt needs to be paid to creditors through the repayment plan.

It is important to remember that a substitute return can only be used if you have yet to file your taxes. If you can provide your tax returns before the meeting, the court will use those instead to determine how much your debt needs to be repaid.

Unfortunately, substitute returns often result in more tax bill than if you had filed your returns. This is because the IRS may only have access to some of the deductions and credits available to taxpayers. Therefore, filing your returns before the meeting is important for ensuring that only accurate information is used to determine how much your debt needs to be repaid.

Winding Up

Filing for bankruptcy can be difficult, but it is important if you struggle with overwhelming tax arrears. Understanding how Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy affect your taxes can help you decide the best way to address your financial situation. Additionally, it is important to work with a qualified attorney and tax professional when considering bankruptcy to address your tax bill.

Experienced attorneys can help you understand the process and make sure you are making the best decisions for your financial future. By following these tips, you can ensure that you take the necessary steps to address your tax debt and move on with your life. With the right strategy, filing for bankruptcy can be an excellent way to get relief from overwhelming tax arrears.

What Debts are Exempt from Filing For Bankruptcy?

In times of financial distress, bankruptcy can help people regain control of their finances. However, you should know that not all debts can be discharged in bankruptcy proceedings. This guide examines the debts exempt from bankruptcy under Chapters 7 and 13, shedding light on the limitations and nuances of each chapter.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: A Fresh Start through Liquidation

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a legal process that allows people to rebuild their lives by liquidating non-exempt assets to repay creditors. Also known as “liquidation bankruptcy” because the debtor’s non-exempt assets are sold, and the proceeds are divided among the creditors. This chapter of bankruptcy benefits many debtors by allowing them to eliminate their overwhelming debts and regain financial stability.

However, it is important to note that not all debts are discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Certain debts are typically exempted from discharge, meaning that the debtor remains responsible for repaying them even after the bankruptcy process is completed. These non-dischargeable debts are carefully defined by bankruptcy laws to protect creditors’ rights and maintain fairness in the overall process.

Student Loans

A student loan is one of the debts, generally non-dischargeable under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Student loans are often substantial and can create a significant financial burden for individuals. Unfortunately, discharging student loans through bankruptcy is challenging and requires proving an “undue hardship.” This standard is very stringent and typically requires demonstrating that repaying student loans would cause extreme financial hardship that persists over an extended period.

Child Support and Alimony

Debts related to child support and alimony obligations are also non-dischargeable. These debts hold priority status, ensuring that children and former spouses receive the necessary financial support.


Most tax debts are not dischargeable under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This includes income taxes, property taxes, and certain other tax-related obligations. The rationale behind this exemption is to maintain the tax system’s integrity and prevent individuals from using bankruptcy to avoid their tax responsibilities. However, there are exceptions to this rule based on specific circumstances, such as the age of the tax debt and compliance with tax filing requirements.

Debts Incurred through Fraud or Misrepresentation

Debts that result from fraudulent activities, embezzlement, or pretences are generally non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. This provision ensures that individuals cannot abuse the bankruptcy process to avoid debts obtained through dishonest or deceptive practices. Bankruptcy laws aim to uphold the principles of fairness and prevent the misuse of the system.

A Repayment Plan for Financial Rehabilitation

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a “repayment plan” or “wage earner’s plan,” offers people a structured path to financial recovery. Unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which involves liquidating assets, this chapter allows debtors to create a realistic repayment plan over three to five years to pay off their debts.

This form of bankruptcy is often suitable for individuals who have a steady income and want to retain their assets while repaying their debts in an organized manner. It provides more flexibility compared to Chapter 7, allowing debtors to keep their homes and other valuable possessions while addressing their financial obligations responsibly.

However, it is important to note that certain debts are still considered non-dischargeable under Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This means that even with the repayment plan, the debtor remains responsible for these obligations. Let’s explore these non-dischargeable debts to gain a deeper understanding:

Debts from Willful and Malicious Injury

Chapter 13 bankruptcy does not discharge debts resulting from intentional acts of harm or property damage. This provision ensures that individuals who have caused harm to others through willful and malicious actions remain accountable for their actions. Victims have the right to seek compensation for their injuries or damages.

Certain Tax Debts

While Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows for the inclusion of certain tax debts in the repayment plan, not all tax obligations can be discharged. Recent income taxes, for instance, typically must be paid in full. However, older tax debts or tax penalties may be eligible for inclusion in the repayment plan, allowing debtors to gradually catch up on these obligations.

Debts Not Listed in the Bankruptcy Filing

Debtors must list all their debts in the bankruptcy filing accurately. Failure to disclose a debt can result in it being excluded from the discharge. It is essential to be diligent and thorough in providing a comprehensive account of all debts to ensure a fair resolution for the debtor and the creditors.

Debts Arising After Filing

Debts incurred after the bankruptcy petition has been filed are generally not dischargeable. Debtors must be responsible for managing any new debts or financial obligations that arise during the bankruptcy process. This underscores the importance of prudent financial management and avoiding new debts while undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Individuals filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can gradually reorganize their finances and repay their debts. Debtors can demonstrate their commitment to financial responsibility and work toward a fresh start by following the structured repayment plan. Seeking the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney is critical to successfully navigating the complexities of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.


Understanding which debts are exempt from filing for bankruptcy is crucial for individuals considering Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. While bankruptcy can relieve certain debts, consulting with a qualified bankruptcy attorney is important to navigate the complex legal requirements.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers a fresh start by liquidating non-exempt assets, but student loans, child support, alimony, taxes, and debts resulting from fraud or misrepresentation remain non-dischargeable. In contrast, Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides a repayment plan over a period. Still, debts from willful injury, certain tax, unlisted, and post-petition debts are not dischargeable.

Navigating the bankruptcy process requires careful consideration of individual circumstances and a thorough understanding of the applicable laws. Seeking professional legal advice is advisable to assess the specific situation and make informed decisions accurately.

Bankruptcy laws may vary across jurisdictions, so you must be familiar with the regulations in your area. By obtaining the necessary knowledge and guidance, individuals can work towards financial rehabilitation and establish a solid foundation for their future.

Stopping Wage Garnishment

If you fail to make debt payments, your creditor may take legal action by suing you and seeking a court judgment. Once this occurs, the creditor can ask the court to garnish your bank account or wages to reimburse the debt.

However, a wage garnishment can worsen an already difficult situation if you’re already struggling to meet your financial obligations. The good news is that there are measures you can take to prevent garnishment from causing havoc in your financial circumstances.

What is Wage Garnishment?

Debt collectors may resort to garnishment if you’re unable to repay a debt. Upon court approval, the creditor can ask for a portion of your wages or bank account funds to settle the debt. These enforced payments can worsen your financial difficulties and make it challenging to meet essential expenses.

Therefore, it’s crucial to engage with your creditor before they initiate a lawsuit to prevent the garnishment. If you’ve already reached that point, however, there are potential alternatives you can explore to eliminate the garnishment.

Understanding Garnishment Process

Wage garnishment regulations differ across states, allowing a limited timeframe for you to raise objections. The duration varies based on your state and the debt’s nature, with the window sometimes as brief as five days.

Nevertheless, the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) safeguards all consumers. This legislation prevents unfair practices by third-party debt collectors in their debt collection efforts. It shields you against harassment, unsolicited calls during odd hours, and disclosing your debt to anybody other than your spouse.

How Wage Garnishment Works

As said earlier, creditors resort to garnishment as a final measure to recover their owed funds. Before this, they usually explore alternative options such as negotiations, engaging collection agencies, or structured loan repayment plans. If these attempts prove unsuccessful, the creditor may seek court approval to proceed with garnishment.

After the creditor initiates the garnishment request, the court must approve it and forward it to your employer for implementation and compliance. Subsequently, your employer must subtract the specified amount from your paycheck and send it to the creditor. Failure to comply with a garnishment order can hold your employer liable for the debt’s repayment.

It is worth noting that once the garnishment process commences, it will persist until the debt is wholly settled or until legal measures are undertaken to stop it.

5 Ways for Stopping Wage Garnishment

When faced with a garnishment order, taking immediate action is crucial. Assessing potential legal or financial alternatives to halt the garnishment process is valuable. Here is how you can stop the garnishment:

Reimburse the Debt Fully

Paying off the debt is a widely used approach to end garnishment. By doing so, you can instantly halt the garnishment and find reassurance that your employer will no longer deduct your paycheck. However, before pursuing this option, knowing the repayment terms and assessing any potential financial consequences is advisable.

Thus, look closely at your expenses to determine if you can afford to make a single payment to settle the debt. Paying off the debt may be the optimal resolution to cease garnishment.
Challenge the Judgment in a Court

Suppose the garnishment is the result of a judgment. In that case, it might be possible to dispute that judgment in a court. Depending on the available evidence and the circumstances, engaging a garnishment attorney could assist you in this matter. Challenging the judgment can be intricate and time-consuming, but it could be your most viable option if you possess a valid legal argument.

A court hearing will be essential to present your case. If your challenge is successful, the court may modify or completely overturn the judgment. In such a scenario, it can potentially cease the garnishment process. However, it is vital to remember that you must establish your case’s merit per the laws of your state of residence.

File for Bankruptcy

Although filing for bankruptcy carries a social stigma, it can be a powerful strategy for halting garnishment and reclaiming financial control. Once you initiate bankruptcy proceedings, the court will issue an order that immediately stops all garnishments and other debt collection activities. The personal bankruptcy that you can apply for includes:

Chapter 7 Fresh Start: Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers a straightforward approach to eliminate debts swiftly and provide complete relief. This plan eliminates unsecured debts, such as credit card bills, medical expenses, judgments, personal loans, garnishments, and other similar obligations.

Chapter 13 Reorganization Plan: Chapter 13 bankruptcy aims to halt creditor actions and establish manageable repayment terms to help you regain financial stability. Here is where working with a garnishment lawyer comes into play, as they will help you develop a balanced budget based on your unique income and debt obligations.

Agree on a Good Payment Plan

If your present financial circumstances make it challenging to repay the debt completely, negotiating a more feasible reimbursement plan with your creditor is possible. This negotiation process may involve discussions regarding decreased monthly payments, reduced interest rates, extended loan terms, or even a lump-sum settlement. Successful negotiation can halt the garnishment and lessen the debt burden.

Having a well-defined plan can prevent further collections or legal actions while decreasing the overall interest you need to pay. It’s important to remember that creditors may be open to working with you if they perceive it as beneficial to them, so don’t hesitate to engage in negotiations.

File an Exemption Claim

If you believe that a portion of your wages should be protected against garnishment, it is crucial to submit an exemption claim. This claim allows you to assert your eligibility for exemption based on specific factors, such as being the head of a household, having dependents, or maintaining a low income. Moreover, if another creditor is currently garnishing your wages, you can file a claim to limit the amount deducted.

Is Hiring a Wage Garnishment Attorney Worth It?

Hiring a wage garnishment attorney can be a wise decision when facing the possibility of wage garnishment. With their expertise in this area of law, attorneys can provide valuable guidance, protect your rights, and navigate the legal procedures involved. They can alleviate stress, advocate, and help you explore options to challenge or negotiate the garnishment.