What is a discharge and how does the debtor receive the 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 the debtor:

  • certifies (if applicable) that all domestic support obligations have been paid

  • has not received a discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 case within eight years preceding the filing of the new case

  • has not received a discharge in a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 case within six (6) years preceding the filing of the new case**

  • does not have a complaint against them which objects to the discharge or the dischargeability of a debt

  • has completed an approved personal financial management course.  Click here for Official Form 23 - Debtor's Certification of Completion of Personal Financial Management Course.

** Note: When a new Chapter 7 case is filed, and a discharge was entered in a Chapter 12 or Chapter 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, and;

  • debts for criminal fines or restitution.