What does the debtor need to do before filing a Chapter 7 case?

Before filing a Chapter 7 case, an individual debtor must obtain credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency.  The debtor must receive credit counseling during the 180 days before the bankruptcy petition is filed.  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 Exhibit D - Individual Debtor’s Statement of Compliance with Credit Counseling Requirement.  Place a check in the appropriate box indicating one of the following:

  • Box 1 states that the debtor(s) received credit counseling within the180 days before the filing of the petition and they have the certificate from the agency.
  • Box 2 states that the debtor(s) received credit counseling within the 180 days before the filing of the petition, but they 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 the debtor(s) requested counseling from an approved agency, but were unable to obtain services within 7 days of the request and they are filing for exigent circumstances.  This means that unusual things happened that prevented them from getting the credit counseling before they filed the petition.  The circumstances must be described in detail.
  • Box 4 states that the debtor(s) 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.

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 the section titled "What is the Personal Financial Management Course (Debtor Education)?" for more information.