Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge

by : Damian Sofsian



The primary purpose of bankruptcy court is to discharge certain debts to give a debtor a fresh start. A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. Discharge prohibits the creditors from taking any form of collection action against debtors on discharged debts. The bankruptcy discharge varies depending on the chapter of bankruptcy a debtor files. Unless there is lawsuit involving objections to the discharge, the debtor will usually automatically receive a discharge.

In chapter 7 cases, a discharge is not an absolute right of the debtor. An objection to the debtor's discharge may be filed by a creditor, by the trustee in the case. Creditors receive a notice shortly after the case is filed with the deadline for objecting to the discharge. To object to the debtor's discharge, a creditor must start a lawsuit called an adversary proceeding before the deadline set out in the notice. In a chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court usually grants the discharge without any delay on expiration of the time fixed for filing a complaint objecting to the discharge or the application for dismissal of the case. Bankruptcy court issues a discharge order 60 days following the first date set for the creditors meeting or nearly four months after the date the debtor files the petition with the bankruptcy court.

On an average, in 99 out of 100 chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the court may deny the debtor a discharge if the debtor failed to obey orders of the bankruptcy court. Debtor's failure to produce correct financials or failure to explain satisfactorily any loss of assets or actions like transferring, hiding, or destroying property of the estate may lead to denial of discharge.

The debtor gets a discharge for most debts in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case. But all the debts are not discharged under chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Debts for alimony and child support, certain types of tax claims, loans assured by a governmental unit, debts for fines and penalties and debts due to improper behavior of the debtor are not discharged.

The trustee or the creditors may request to revoke the debtor's discharge in a chapter 7 case alleging the fraudulent behavior of the debtor. The court may revoke a chapter 7 discharge if the debtor fraudulently obtained the discharge.