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Before You File

Have you completed credit counseling?

Did you complete credit counseling from a U.S. Trustee approved credit counseling agency and receive your credit counseling certificate? Your certificate must be filed with your bankruptcy petition.

If you (and your spouse, if filing a joint petition) do not complete the required United States Trustee approved counseling, before you file your petition or you do not meet the requirement to complete the counseling after filing (you must have received credit counseling within 180 days before filing bankruptcy):

Your case may be dismissed without refund of any filing fee paid:

  • You will not receive a discharge of your debts;
  • If you re-file within one year after dismissal, protection from creditors (the automatic stay) granted under the Bankruptcy Code may be limited to thirty (30) days.

Under the bankruptcy laws, the court can allow you to complete the course after filing if you meet all of the following conditions. See 11 U.S.C. §109(h)(3).

  • You must have tried to obtain credit counseling from an approved agency before bankruptcy but were not able to obtain the counseling during the five-day period after you made the request; and
  • There are exigent (emergency) circumstances that make it necessary for you to file your case immediately (Note: The court will determine what qualifies as an emergency circumstance); and
  • You must file a certification stating the facts regarding conditions 1 and 2 above with your petition.

The decision to file is yours alone, but if you file a petition without taking the course, you risk dismissal of your case. The clerk cannot provide legal advice or predict in advance how a judge will decide your request for an extension to complete the requirements for credit counseling. For more information about the credit counseling requirement, click here.

A waiver of the credit counseling requirement is available in very limited circumstances for persons on military duty in an active combat zone, or persons with a physical or mental impairment preventing participation in credit counseling in person, by telephone or on the Internet. 11 U.S.C. §109(h)(4). A waiver request must be made by motion to the court.

Debtor's Duties under Section 521

Debtors should be aware of their duties under Section 521 of the Bankruptcy Code to file certain documents. Failing to do so could result in the dismissal of the bankruptcy case. If individual chapter 7 or 13 debtors do not file certain information required by Section 521(a)(1) within 45 days after the filing of the petition, the case will be automatically dismissed on the 46th day after the date of the filing of the petition in accordance with Local Bankruptcy Rule 1007-8.