Bankruptcy Discharge: When is it Automatic and When May a Creditor Object? | Attorney Aaron Hall

Bankruptcy Discharge: When is it Automatic and When May a Creditor Object?

A dischargeable debt is a debt that does not have to be repaid after bankruptcy. It is discharged or eliminated from the debtor’s obligations.

Not all debts may be discharged. Whether a debt is dischargeable will depend on the type of bankruptcy filed. The United States Bankruptcy Code contains a list of debts that are not dischargeable when the debtor is an individual. This list can be found in section 523(a) of the United States Bankruptcy Code. There are 19 types of debts that are not dischargeable under chapters 7, 11, and 12 of the Bankruptcy Code. There is a shorter list of the types of debts that are not dischargeable under chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code.

The Automatic Bankruptcy Discharge

Unless there is litigation involving objections to the discharge, the debtor will usually automatically receive a discharge.

The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure provide for the clerk of the bankruptcy court to mail a copy of the order of discharge to all creditors, the U.S. trustee, the trustee in the case, and the trustee’s attorney if any. The debtor and the debtor’s attorney also receive copies of the discharge order.

The notice, which is simply a copy of the final order of discharge, is not specific as to those debts determined by the court to be non-dischargeable, i.e., not covered by the discharge. The notice informs creditors generally that the debts owed to them have been discharged and that they should not attempt any further collection. They are cautioned in the notice that continuing collection efforts could subject them to punishment for contempt. Any inadvertent failure on the part of the clerk to send the debtor or any creditor a copy of the discharge order promptly within the time required by the rules does not affect the validity of the order granting the discharge.

Therefore, when a debt has been discharged, not only does the debtor legally not have to repay that debt any longer, but creditors are not even permitted to request repayment, through any channel of communication. Creditors are not permitted to make phone calls or send mailings requesting repayment of discharged debts under any circumstances.

The Creditor’s Objection to Discharge

Creditors are permitted, prior to the discharge, to file objections to the discharge of a debt. A bankruptcy trustee, as well as the United States Trustee, are also permitted to file an objection to the discharge of a debt. Any objections must be filed within the applicable deadline to do so.