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After a Bankruptcy Discharge, Do I Have to Pay Creditors Back?

You’re either thinking about filing bankruptcy or you’ve already decided to do so, but now you’re needing more information about the bankruptcy discharge. You probably have questions like, “What is the discharge exactly?” and “Do I have to pay my creditors back after my debts are discharged?” In this article, we answer these two common questions. Read on for the information you’re looking for!

First, let’s get clear on what the bankruptcy discharge is. The United States Courts explain it like this: “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 discharge is 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.”

When is Debt Discharged?

The timing of the bankruptcy discharge depends on which bankruptcy chapter you file (Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or Chapter 11). For example, when a debtor files Chapter 7, the discharge usually occurs 60 days after the 341 meeting of creditors. In other words, the Chapter 7 discharge is usually within four months of the date the petition is filed.

  • The discharge for Chapter 13 and individual Chapter 11 cases is as soon as practical after the debtor completes their Chapter 13 repayment plan.

“How do I get a discharge?” you might ask. Unless a creditor has filed a lawsuit against you or someone has objected to your discharge, you should automatically receive a discharge. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the clerk of the bankruptcy court is required to mail a copy of the discharge order to all of your creditors, including the trustee in your case, the U.S. trustee, and the trustee’s lawyer, if there is one.

Not all debts are discharged in bankruptcy, and the type of debts that are discharged depend on the type of bankruptcy filed. Under the Bankruptcy Code, Section 523(a), it explains which types of debts are dischargeable. So, the debtor must still repay any debts that survive the bankruptcy, such as child support and spousal support.

“Congress has determined that these types of debts are not dischargeable for public policy reasons (based either on the nature of the debt or the fact that the debts were incurred due to improper behavior of the debtor, such as the debtor's drunken driving),” according to the United States Courts.

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