Counseling Courses Required Before and After You File Bankruptcy

In 2005, Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA). One component of BAPCPA is the requirement that all consumer debtors complete counseling courses both before and after they file bankruptcy. Before filing, debtors must complete a pre-filing credit counseling course, and then after filing, they must complete a post-filing financial management course. If you are considering Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, a qualified Maryland and Washington DC bankruptcy attorney can explain your bankruptcy options and provide you with information concerning all BAPCPA requirements.

Pre-Filing Credit Counseling

A consumer debtor must complete the pre-filing credit counseling course within 180 days before filing his or her Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case, unless BAPCPA counseling is not required in the district within which the case is being filed. Upon completion of the course, the credit counseling agency will provide the debtor with a certificate that can be filed with the bankruptcy court. Commencing a bankruptcy case without first completing the pre-filing credit counseling course, or without requesting a temporary waiver of this requirement from the bankruptcy court, can result in dismissal of one’s case.

If you are considering bankruptcy, a knowledgeable Washington DC and Maryland bankruptcy attorney can determine whether you need to complete pre-filing credit counseling and help you find an approved course provider.

Post-Filing Financial Management Course

Consumer debtors must also complete a post-filing financial management course, unless the district in which their case was filed does not require it. For Chapter 7 debtors, this course must be completed within 60 days of the first date set for the meeting of creditors. For Chapter 13 debtors, this course must be completed before the date of their final plan payment or before they file a motion for discharge. After completing the course, debtors must file proof of completion with the bankruptcy court. Failure to take the required post-filing financial management course can result in a debtor’s Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case being closed without a discharge.

Exemptions to the BAPCPA Counseling Requirements

Some bankruptcy filers may be exempt from the pre-filing credit counseling and/or the post-filing financial management course. Possible reasons for exemption include:

  • Incapacitation
  • Active military duty in a combat zone
  • Disability that prevents the debtor from completing the course with reasonable accommodations

If you believe you may be exempt from the BAPCPA counseling requirements, you can discuss your situation with an experienced Maryland and Washington DC bankruptcy lawyer to find out for sure. To learn more about the entire bankruptcy process, contact a knowledgeable Washington DC and Maryland bankruptcy lawyer today.

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