16 May Bankruptcy Basics: What is a Priority Debt?
When a person files for bankruptcy protection, his debts are placed into three major categories: (1) secured (2) unsecured, and (3) priority. See Bankruptcy Basics: What is a Secured Debt? for details on secured debts. Priority debt is a debt that is generally non-dischargeable. Typically, it is money owed either to a governmental-type agency or the writers of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code felt that discharging these kinds of debt would violate public policy. Examples of priority debt include child or spousal support, most taxes (exceptions apply) and criminal fines/restitution. For everything except child or spousal support, there are sub-categories and technicalities which may make these kinds of debts dischargeable. But, mostly, these priority debts survive a bankruptcy and the person remains responsible to pay them. An attorney can help figure out which debts are going to survive the bankruptcy discharge and which debts will be discharged.
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