The bankruptcy filing date is the date when you file the petition for bankruptcy with the court. By contrast, the discharge date occurs toward the end of the process. How long it takes to get from the filing date to the discharge date depends on which type of bankruptcy you file. Obtaining a Chapter 7 discharge may take only a few months. Chapter 13 and Chapter 11 involve repayment plans; a Chapter 13 discharge will take three to five years, and a Chapter 11 discharge could take even longer, depending on whether you completed your plan and did everything required.
Filing the Bankruptcy Petition
The filing date, often called the petition date, is the official date your bankruptcy case begins. On this date, you file your bankruptcy petition, which includes your name and address, the chapter you're filing, you're attorney's information and certain other information, such as whether you've ever filed a case before.
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Your bankruptcy filing must also include your schedules and related documents, which list all your debts, assets and other financial and personal information. Although you can file a petition without the schedules and other documents, you only have a limited time to file the rest after the petition is filed; if you don't, your case will be dismissed.
The court sends notice to your creditors about your case as soon as possible after you file.
You must take a specific type of credit counseling course before you file a petition. After you file the petition, you must take a financial management course. Both will provide you with certificates to file with the court.
The Bankruptcy Discharge
The discharge date is the day the court officially releases you from personal liability for the debts you had as of the petition date (with some exceptions). Once the applicable deadlines pass in a Chapter 7 case and you file your certificate showing you completed your financial management course, the court will enter your discharge order; in a Chapter 13 case or an individual Chapter 11 case, you'll need to complete your plan and take certain other actions before the discharge order is entered, including filing your financial management course certificate.
A discharge is not the official closure of your case; your case is not closed until the court officially closes it. In a Chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy may stay open for months or years after the discharge is entered if other activity is underway, such as a trustee administering assets or disputes between creditors.
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