What is a Bankruptcy Discharge?

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Yes! You followed all the steps to file your bankruptcy, took the post-bankruptcy “Debtor Education Course”, and now you await your bankruptcy “discharge” or “Order of Discharge”.  A bankruptcy discharge is the ultimate goal of bankruptcy.  It is an Order from the court, releasing you from having to pay back certain debts.  

You are no longer responsible for the liability because it was "discharged"/ wiped out/ removed. There are very few debts that cannot be discharged through bankruptcy.  Creditors are not allowed to harass you about the discharged debt.  Your employer may not fire you or retaliate against you for discharging your debt.  

You can get another copy of your bankruptcy discharge order from the court where you filed your bankruptcy. A bankruptcy discharge can help you rebuild your credit and plan for the future.

In this article, we discuss:

  • What is a bankruptcy discharge?

  • Do I need to take a 2nd Debtor Education Course to prepare for my discharge?

  • Does a bankruptcy discharge wipe out all my debt?

  • How long will it take for my debt to be discharged?

  • Can my employer fire me for having my debt discharged?

  • Are creditors allowed to contact me about my discharged debt?

  • Where can I get a copy of my discharge order?

What is a bankruptcy “discharge”?

After you successfully file for bankruptcy, you will receive a Discharge Order from the court.  A “discharge,” in bankruptcy terms, is a final order issued by the court wiping out/ removing/ discharging certain liabilities. It signals your case is nearing the end.

You will no longer be responsible for either some or all of the debt you incurred prior to filing for bankruptcy. All the debt that you incurred prior to filing bankruptcy that was eligible to be discharged, will be.

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Do I need to take a 2nd Debtor Education Course to prepare for my discharge?

Yes. To prepare for your bankruptcy discharge, the bankruptcy court will require you to take a course in personal financial management before it issues your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Discharge Order.

Online, you can complete the course in just two hours. It is essential you complete the second Debtor Education Course and file the Certificate of Completion with the court before you can receive your discharge.

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Does a bankruptcy discharge wipe out all my debt?

Fortunately, most debts are wiped out and discharged. However, under Section 523(a) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, there are a few debts you cannot discharge known as non-dischargeable debts.  

There are only a few categories of non-dischargeable debts. The most common non-dischargeable liabilities under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy include student loans, most income taxes, alimony, child support, and secured liens.  

How long will it take for my debt to be discharged?

How long depends on whether you filed Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

When will the court issue my discharge in Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it takes about four to six months for you to receive your discharge order after your case is initially filed.

After you file your bankruptcy, you will have to attend your 341 Meeting about one to two months later. Then, about two to three months after that, the court will issue an order officially discharging your debts.

When will the court issue my discharge in Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

In Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it takes about three to five years after you initially file before you receive your Discharge Order from the court. This is because the length of a Chapter 13 Plan is three to five years.

When you have completed all the terms of your Chapter 13 Plan, including taking course 2, you will receive your Discharge Order from the court.

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Can my employer fire me for having my debt discharged?

No, it is illegal for your employer to take any action against you.  First, it is unlikely your employer would receive notice that you filed for bankruptcy.  If your employer did get wind of it, the company is not allowed to fire you or retaliate against you for having your debt discharged, even if your employer was one of your creditors.

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Are creditors allowed to contact me about my discharged debt?

No. Creditors who contact you about your discharged debt violate Section 524 of the Bankruptcy Code. Note that creditors of the non-dischargeable debt may still contact you and can now proceed, but the creditors of the discharged debt cannot.  Those creditors are prohibited from contacting you or harassing you about the discharged debt.  

This is not to say that it does not happen, but there are laws that protect you from such behavior. When faced with this situation, you may send the creditor a copy of the Discharge Order, and ask not to be contacted anymore. The Discharge Order tells the creditor that the debt they are trying to collect on has been discharged, and that they need to stop contacting you.

If the creditor does not stop contact, you may want to consider contacting a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) lawyer or file a motion with the court to order the creditor to stop contacting you. The court can punish and fine creditors for violating the order.

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Where can I get a copy of my Discharge Order?

You will automatically receive a copy of your Discharge Order in the mail from the clerk of the bankruptcy court.  A copy of your discharge notice is also mailed to all creditors on your mailing list, the U.S. Trustee, the Trustee in your case, and the Trustee’s attorney, if they have one. You can get an additional copy of your Discharge Order from the court where you filed your bankruptcy paperwork . It will be in your bankruptcy court file.

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Conclusion

Your bankruptcy discharge is a new beginning.  It is protection from particular past debt to help you move forward with your life.

Those who successfully file for bankruptcy typically keep their bankruptcy discharge in a safe place with all their other financial documents.

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