What does the debtor need to do before filing for bankruptcy?

Before filing a Chapter 13 case, the debtor MUST obtain credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency.  The debtor must receive credit counseling during the 180 days before the bankruptcy filing.  If the debtor is married and filing a joint petition, both debtors must obtain credit counseling.  Credit counseling may be conducted over the phone, over the internet or in person.  When the credit counseling is completed, the credit counseling agency issues a credit counseling certificate.

In addition to the credit counseling certificate, the debtor(s) must also complete Vountary Petition for Indviduals Filing for Bankruptcy (Bankruptcy Form 101) and place a check in the appropriate box of Part 5 of the Voluntary petition indicating one of the following:

  • Box 1 states that you received credit counseling within 180 days before the filing of the petition and you have the certificate from the agency.
  • Box 2 states that you received credit counseling within 180 days before the filing of the petition, but you do not have the certificate from agency.

Limited exceptions to the credit counseling requirement are addressed in Box 3 and Box 4:

  • Box 3 states that you requested counseling from an approved agency, but were unable to obtain services within 7 days of the request and you are filing for an extensionof time to file the Certificate of Credit Counseling due to exigent circumstances.  This means that unusual things happened that prevented you from getting credit counseling before you filed the petition.  You must attach a separate sheet explaining what efforts you made to obtain the briefing, why you were unable to obtain it before you filed for bankruptcy, and what exigent circumstances required you to file this case


  • Box 4 states that you are not required to receive credit counseling because of incapacity or disability (defined in 11 U.S.C. §109(h)(4)), or active military duty in a military combat zone.If you believe you are not required to receive a briefing about credit counseling, you must file a motion for a waiver of the credit counseling requirement with the court.

Click here to locate an approved Credit Counseling Agency.

Click here for more information about Credit Counseling

Note: Credit Counseling is not the same as the Personal Financial Management Course (Debtor Education).  The Personal Financial Management Course is required AFTER the petition is filed and must be completed before receiving a discharge.  See section titled "What is the Personal Financial Management Course (Debtor Education)?" for more information.