In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into effect. As part of that legislation, bankruptcy filers are required to complete a pre-filing credit counseling course and a post-filing financial management course. Unless the district in which you are filing has waived the counseling requirements, before you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must complete the pre-filing credit counseling course, and before you can receive your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 discharge, you must complete the post-filing financial management course. If you are considering bankruptcy, a knowledgeable Morris County bankruptcy lawyer can provide you with important bankruptcy information, including details about the BAPCPA counseling requirements.
Pre-filing Credit Counseling
Most bankruptcy courts require Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 debtors to complete the BAPCPA pre-filing credit counseling. Dozens of providers offer the course nationwide, and you can complete the counseling online, by phone or in person, depending on the provider. The U.S. Trustee’s office maintains a list of approved course providers for all 50 states, Washington D.C., and U.S. territories and commonwealths.
In certain situations, a bankruptcy filer may be exempt from completing the pre-filing credit counseling, such as when he or she is:
- Disabled to the extent he or she is unable to complete the course with reasonable accommodations
- On active military duty in a military combat zone
An experienced Morris County bankruptcy attorney can determine whether you must complete the pre-filing counseling course and recommend approved providers. The credit counseling must be taken within 180 days of when you file for bankruptcy, so you should consult a qualified bankruptcy attorney before taking the pre-filing course.
Post-Filing Financial Management Course
After your case has been filed, you must complete a post-filing financial management course, unless the district in which you filed does not require it. Many of the providers who offer the pre-filing counseling course also offer the post-filing financial management course, and you can complete it online, by phone or in person, depending on the provider. As with the pre-filing course, the U.S. Trustee’s office maintains a list of approved providers, and you may be exempt from the post-filing counseling requirement under certain circumstances.
You cannot complete the post-filing course until after your case has been filed – approved providers will not let you register for it without a bankruptcy case number. Chapter 7 debtors must complete the course and file the required certificate and/or form with the bankruptcy court no later than 60 days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Chapter 13 debtors must do so before the date of their last plan payment or before filing a motion for discharge. If the proper financial management course paperwork is not filed on time, the bankruptcy court may close a debtor’s case without granting the discharge.