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Bankruptcy Discharge Guide

Bankruptcy Discharge Guide

Bankruptcy cases largely center around the discharge of debt, which happens at the conclusion of a bankruptcy case. The following is some general information about discharge and how the process works. To discuss specific questions or a possible case, contact a California bankruptcy attorney at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP right away. 

What is a discharge?

A bankruptcy discharge is a court order that releases a bankruptcy filer from personal liability for certain debts. This means you do not have to pay those debts, and your creditors should not try to make collection attempts. 

When does a Chapter 7 discharge happen?

A debt discharge occurs at the end of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Most Chapter 7 cases take four to six months from the filing date until the discharge of debts. It can take longer if there are delays or other issues that arise in your case, but in most situations, this is a relatively swift process. 

What are the requirements to obtain a Chapter 7 discharge?

The law does not allow just anyone to have their debts discharged by the bankruptcy court. Instead, you must meet certain requirements, including:

  • Passing the means test, which demonstrates you do not have adequate income to pay your debts
  • Completing two credit counseling courses, one prior to filing and one prior to discharge
  • Completing and filing all necessary petitions and paperwork with the court, including supporting documents 
  • Providing additional information as requested by the court or bankruptcy trustee
  • Attending a 341 Meeting of Creditors

If you meet all these requirements, you should have your qualified debts discharged.

What debts qualify for discharge?

Not every type of debt is dischargeable. Generally, speaking, unsecured debts – such as credit cards or medical bills – are dischargeable. The following are types of debt that are NOT dischargeable in a Chapter 7 case:

  • Certain tax debts
  • Debts not included on the bankruptcy petition
  • Child support or spousal support
  • Debts incurred by fraudulent means
  • Debts for willful and malicious harm to property or persons, including from drunk driving accidents
  • Government fines and penalties, including criminal fines
  • Most student loans
  • Loans from some tax-advantaged retirement plans
  • Certain HOA fees
  • Secured debts, such as a mortgage or auto loan

Does every case end with a discharge?

The right to a discharge is not absolute. You must meet requirements as discussed above, and creditors do have the opportunity to object to the discharge of certain debts. Courts can also deny a discharge if they suspect that you tried to conceal or transfer property, you lied about your income, property, or debts, or attempted to defraud the court in another way. You must ensure to comply with all requirements of the Chapter 7 process to have the best chance of a successful discharge. 

Consult with a California Bankruptcy Lawyer Today

The lawyers at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP, represent clients during bankruptcy, and our goal is to obtain a successful discharge for you. Contact us today for a consultation about your options.

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