Bankruptcy Law: Some Important Facts As applying for loans, credit cards and other forms of credit are easier to come by, so are the bankruptcy rates in the United States. In a ten year period, between 1994 and 2004, bankruptcy rates in the United States nearly doubled. The government's reaction was to take a closer look at reasons parties were filing for bankruptcy, new laws were instated to ensure that individuals and businesses had valid reasons for applying for bankruptcy. One of the primary laws regarding bankruptcy that was passed in the United States in 2004 is the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. This law just went into effect in October 2005, but has already caused quite a stir in the financial and bankruptcy law arenas. Besides making it more difficult to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or complete bankruptcy, the law imposes stricter rules and budgets on Chapter 13 debtors. A major change the law makes throughout the United States is the need for debtors to have filed tax returns for four years in a row before qualifying for bankruptcy. As well, dischargeable debts, or those debts where personal liability is taken away by the court system, is more difficult to come by. The Act requires that debtors prove good reason for dischargeable debt and is even requiring more debtors to take responsibility with non-dischargeable debt budgets. As far as the two major types of bankruptcy laws are concerned, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is that which allows the debtor to keep some assets upon proving only limited debt and a steady income. This bankruptcy is excellent for those debtors who have gotten themselves into major financial difficulty but still have means of paying for some assets. The court will set up a repayment schedule and budget that allows for full repayment of mortgages or cars within three to five years. If repayment is simply not an option, the bankruptcy law requires that a debtor will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. This is often referred to as complete liquidation of assets, except for exempt items. Exempt items in a bankruptcy hearing are determined by the court and are usually items that are a necessity, such as a car or work related items. As well, the courts will distribute debts into two categories: nondischargeable and dischargeable debt. Non-dischargeable debts also fall into two categories: non-dischargeable due to wrongful conduct on the debtor and non-dischargeable due to public policy. Wrongful misconduct by the debtor could mean theft or laundering money while public policy could include child support payment or court related judgments.