Discharge In Bankruptcy
The bankruptcy discharge varies depending on the type of case a debtor files: chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13. Bankruptcy Basics attempts to answer some basic questions about the discharge available to individual debtors under all four chapters including:
The Bankruptcy Discharge Release
A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. In other words, the debtor is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The bankruptcy discharge papers are a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the debtor from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.
Although a debtor is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (i.e., made unenforceable) in the bankruptcy case will remain after the bankruptcy case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien.
When does the Bankruptcy discharge occur?
The timing of the bankruptcy discharge depends on the chapter under which the case is filed. In a chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation) case, for example, the court usually grants the discharge promptly on expiration of the time fixed for filing a complaint objecting to discharge and the time fixed for filing a motion to dismiss the case for substantial abuse (60 days following the first date set for the 341 meeting). Typically, this occurs about four months after the date the debtor files the petition with the clerk of the bankruptcy court.
In individual chapter 11 bankruptcy cases, and in cases under chapter 12 (adjustment of debts of a family farmer or fisherman) and chapter 13 bankruptcy (adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income), the court generally grants the discharge as soon as practicable after the debtor completes all payments under the plan.
Since a chapter 12 or chapter 13 plan may provide for payments to be made over three to five years, the discharge typically occurs about four years after the date of filing. The court may deny an individual debtor's discharge in a chapter 7 or 13 case if the debtor fails to complete "an instructional course concerning financial management."
The Bankruptcy Code provides limited exceptions to the "financial management" requirement if the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator determines there are inadequate educational programs available, or if the debtor is disabled or incapacitated or on active military duty in a combat zone.