What is a discharge and how do I receive my discharge?

A discharge releases a debtor from personal liability of certain debts known as dischargeable debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor or the debtor's property to collect the debts.  The discharge also prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.

The debtor is eligible for a discharge usually between 60 and 90 days after the Meeting of Creditors, as long as you:

1. have not received a discharge in a Chapter 7 or 11 case within eight (8) years of the new case

2.  have not received a discharge in a Chapter 12 or 13 case within six (6) years of the new case **

3.  do not have a complaint against you which objects to the discharge or the dischargeability of a debt

4.  have completed the Personal Financial Management Course (Debtor Education) and filed a Certification About a Financial Management Course (Bankruptcy Form 423).

** Note: When a new Chapter 7 case is filed, and a discharge was entered in a Chapter 12 or 13 case filed within the previous six (6) years, the court may not withhold the debtor’s discharge. However, creditors and parties in interest may file a complaint objecting to discharge under §727(a)(9).

Every debt is not discharged.  There are exceptions to the discharge, which include, but are not limited to:

  • debts for alimony and child support
  • most student loans
  • debts arising from death or personal injury caused by driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
  • debts for criminal fines or restitution.

NOTE:  Once a debt is discharged, you are legally free of that debt.  The discharge is a permanent order that prohibits creditors from taking any type of collection action on discharged debts.  Any attempt to collect discharged debt is prohibited by bankruptcy law.  For your own protection, you should maintain accurate records and copies of all matters related to your bankruptcy.  In addition, you should routinely check your credit report with the various reporting agencies to ensure that discharged debts are not being reported as outstanding.