Bankruptcy Basics: The Discharge Order

E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse

The main reasons that people file bankruptcy are to stop creditor harassment and get rid of their debts.  For individual debtors, the normal conclusion of a successful bankruptcy results in the entry of a discharge order.  But what exactly is a discharge order?

A bankruptcy discharge is a federal court order that prohibits the collection of most of your debts.  Click here to see a discharge order that one of my clients recently received.  Other than deleting my client’s confidential information, the link above is an actual discharge order.

Any attempt by a creditor to collect a discharged debt can result in the court issuing monetary sanctions for illegally attempting to collect a discharged debt, including the debtor’s legal fees.  Many acts can be violations of the discharge and can include contacting the debtor or sending invoices, filing or continuing lawsuits or trying to collect on a pre-bankruptcy judgment.

Not all debts are discharged in bankruptcy and creditors with liens such as a home mortgage or a car loan may still have the right to enforce the lien despite the bankruptcy.  The most common types of debts that are not dischargeable include:

  • most taxes
  • child support
  • alimony
  • most student loans
  • court fines and criminal restitution
  • personal injury caused by driving drunk or under the influence of drugs

In most cases, creditors will respect the discharge and will stop contacting the debtor.  However, sometimes it is necessary to go back to court and ask the judge to hold the creditor in contempt of court.  This will mean bringing the proper motion before a judge to request sanctions against the creditor.

If you are being harassed by bill collectors to pay debts that were discharged in bankruptcy, the discharge order is a powerful tool to protect your legal rights.  We can generally take legal action against those creditors and collection agencies at not cost to you.  In many cases, we can obtain monetary sanctions for you as well.  Please call me at (619) 448-2129 for a free consultation.  Your protection is my priority.

Photo credit:  cliff1066™

Carl Starrett

Carl Starrett is a consumer bankruptcy attorney in San Diego, California helping debtors file for protection under Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code.

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