DEALS being negotiated with banks under the Personal Insolvency Act are far less draconian than feared.
Families have been able to keep their health insurance and a second car in some of the first debt deals agreed.
The first batch of 20 cases also shows that families have got agreements to have thousands of euro of credit card and credit union debts written off.
Most of the people who have had deals with banks processed by Grant Thornton Debt Solutions are families with children and work in the PAYE (pay as your earn) sector.
And most managed to keep their homes despite having crippling debts.
In a landmark case a borrower has received a 70pc debt write-off. The HSE worker in his 40s had a partnership in a business which failed and was left with debts he couldn't pay.
The Donegal man originally went into insolvency in Monaghan in October.
He could not pay his debts after his business failed and it is understood three of Ireland's main banks were among six creditors involved.
A protective notice had been issued in court in Monaghan on October 21. The deal was agreed at a creditor meeting yesterday in conjunction with lobby group New Beginning.
The money will be written off if the deal is observed over the next five years of the debt settlement arrangement.
The individual's personal insolvency practitioner was Ronan Duffy of Derry-based McCambridge Duffy. Mr Duffy, who chaired the meeting of creditors, described the arrangement as very significant.
He said: "A debtor had made a full and frank disclosure to address his financial problems under the new system and his creditors recognised that and voluntarily agreed a large write-off of the outstanding debt.
"The write-off is substantial but it should be noted that the debtor is paying back what he can afford and this will vary from case to case, depending on income and any assets."
Ross Maguire from New Beginning said: "It's a landmark case because it's the first of its type. The personal insolvency legislation came into force in September, and the first protective notice was issued on October 21, and then the deal took a little under six weeks."
Mr Maguire warned there are "hundreds and thousands" of cases in the pipeline.
Although every deal is set to be different, the Herald can reveal details for the first time of the conditions imposed by banks agreeing to write off huge amounts of personal and mortgage borrowings. The living expenses being allowed by banks are more generous than expected.
A number of families decided that they are so overwhelmed by their massive mortgage borrowings that they have volunteered to hand back the keys to their homes in return for having a large chunk of what they owe written off.