An effective method in today’s real estate environment (with market prices having declined significantly) to reduce a home owner’s mortgage debt is to discharge said debt in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. This applies to second mortgages, often also called equity lines of credit.  In bankruptcy lingo it is called “stripping-off” the mortgage. Essentially, a lawsuit is filed within the context of the bankruptcy filing, whereby the second mortgage is reduced to the status of an unsecured creditor and paid off as such within the bankruptcy payment plan. At the end of the bankruptcy a discharge is issued for that mortgage and a release is issued from the lender whereby the mortgage is removed from the title of the real estate.