Do I Have to Have Credit Counseling Before Bankruptcy? Yes.
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Bankruptcy Credit Counseling Q & A

Do You Have to Have Credit Counseling Before You File Bankruptcy? <Yes>

Before you file for bankruptcy protection, you'll be required to complete a pre-filing Credit Counseling Briefing with an agency approved by the U.S. Trustee's office. This course must be taken within 180 before your case is filed.

This requirement is critical whether you file for Chapter 7 or for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Since the bankruptcy law changes took effect in 2005, many consumer bankruptcy cases have been dismissed for failure to timely file the credit counseling certification.

Bankruptcy court judges have very little discretion to waive or extend time to comply with this requirement. The course must be completed before you file your bankruptcy petition.

The Credit Counseling Briefing may be completed in person, over the telephone or via the Internet. The session should include an evaluation of your personal finances, discussion of any possible alternatives to bankruptcy and a personal budget plan.

The certificate must be filed with your bankruptcy petition.

For more information on the steps required before filing bankruptcy, speak with an attorney in your area today:

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Commonly Asked Credit Counseling Questions

Where Can I Find an Approved Credit Counseling Agency?

For approved courses, check the U.S. Trustee's list at

How Much Does Credit Counseling Cost?

The cost may vary depending upon where you live and which type of session you schedule.

The U.S. Trustee's office indicates that you can expect to pay about $50 for the average Credit Counseling Briefing.

An approved agency is required to disclose fees to you before starting the session and cannot charge an extra fee for the required certificate.

When Should I Complete My Credit Counseling Briefing?

You must complete the credit counseling requirement within the 6-month period before you file your bankruptcy petition.

What Do I Do with the Credit Counseling Certificate?

You or your bankruptcy lawyer will file your credit counseling certificate along with your bankruptcy petition to show that court that you have complied with the pre-filing requirement.

Are There Any Exceptions to the Credit Counseling Requirement?

There are some very limited exceptions to the credit counseling requirement, but they are strictly prescribed by statute.

Judges have little or no authority to waive the credit counseling requirement.

If there is some reason that you think you may not be able to complete the credit counseling requirement, speak with your bankruptcy lawyer far in advance of your planned filing date to see whether or not you might fall under an exception and what documentation might be required.

Is this Different From the Debtor Education Course?

Yes, the Credit Counseling Briefing and the Debtor Education Course are two completely separate programs with separate certificates.

They are both required to successfully petition for bankruptcy protection and receive a discharge. The Credit Counseling Briefing must take place before you file for bankruptcy, while you must complete the Debtor Education Course after filing, but before discharge.

A Bankruptcy Lawyer Can Explain The Credit Counseling Requirement

If you need more information, or you are considering filing bankruptcy and have questions about your specific situation, connect with a bankruptcy lawyer today.

You can talk to a bankruptcy lawyer for free: Just fill out the free bankruptcy case review form on this page and we'll connect you with a local bankruptcy attorney.

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