As a general rule when a bankruptcy is filed the commencement or continuation of a lawsuit or collection matters against the debtor are automatically stopped. However, there are exceptions where the matter can continue. For example, a criminal action is not stopped by a bankruptcy. Nor is a suit to establish paternity, establish support or visitation. An audit by the IRS or a demand for tax returns are also not stayed. However the government entity is stopped from collecting even if the bankruptcy does not eliminate the debt. An action involving domestic violence is also not stayed. The state is not stopped from suspending a drivers license or professional license. As you can see, while the bankruptcy stops most litigations against the debtor, there are some significant exceptions.
A Chapter 13 Bankruptcy can eliminate obligations from a Judgment of Divorce that cannot be eliminated in a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. Neither will eliminate domestic support obligations such as child support or spousal support. However, if there are other obligations relating to a property settlement agreement or an allocation of liabilities, those obligations can be reduced or eliminated in a chapter 13 but not in a chapter 7. This is because the exception to discharge section that applies to chapter 7 basically makes all divorce related liabilities nondischargeable but the exception section for chapter 13 only applies to domestic support obligations. Because of these differences, if you are filing a bankruptcy after a divorce, it is imortant to discuss with your attorney all obligations under the Judgment for Divorce because it may make more sense to file a chapter 13 when at first blush the case may seem appropriate for a chapter 7.
Chapter 13 is a type of bankruptcy often used by debtors to save their home by paying mortgage arrears over time. However, when filing Chapter 13, a debtor is obligated to pay priority claims in full through the bankruptcy as well. Priority claims include domestic support obligations such as child support, certain types of taxes, claims for personal injuries from a motor vehicle accident when driver was intoxicated, and other types of claims are priority claims. In certain circumstances, this obligation could make retaining the home more difficult since instead of paying just the mortgage arrears, these priority claims must be paid as well. However, it could also make keeping the home easier since it may be more affordable by stretching these payments out over five years.