My Bankruptcy Case Was Closed Without a Discharge… Now What?

by J. Kutkowski on October 18, 2012

You get a letter in the mail from the bankruptcy court saying your case is closed and you did not get a discharge.

Ugh!

Depending on what attorney you hired, you probably spent a lot of money to get that discharge and instead of getting to the finish line you’re told you went through the entire process and you still owe the money.

What should you do?

The first phone call to make it is to your attorney.  This is not a conversation to have with a paralegal or a secretary, your attorney really needs to be the one to handle this call.  If he or she is not available, politely ask that they call you back and do so within 24 hours as this is a time sensitive matter.

So when your attorney returns your call, there are several reasons that your case could be closed without a discharge.  There is only one way, however, that it will happen without you seeing it coming.

Your attorney probably did not file the credit management certificate on time.

Like the credit counseling course that was required to file your case (my colleague Brett Weiss explains credit counseling in detail here), you are required to complete a financial management course to get a discharge.

If you didn’t do the course or you did do the course and not get the certificate to your attorney, that is your mistake.  If your attorney did not file it, that is his or her mistake, and in fairness the law firm ought to pick up the tab for that mistake (I actually made this mistake once and I picked up the tab to fix it).

Your attorney is going to need to file a motion to reopen the case.  The fee in the Eastern and Middle District of Pennsylvania to do this is $260.  If your attorney screwed up, he or she should pay for it, if not, then you will need to pay for the motion and the filing fee.

The motion needs to be crystal clear why the case needs to be reopened and the reasons why the certificate was not filed in time.  In my limited experience in such things, a mea culpa by the attorney accepting blame for the mistake (if he or she truly is to blame) tends to convince the judge that they should approve this motion.  (For the record I’ve never had a judge penalize a client for a mistake admitted on the record… we are all human after all)

The decision whether to approve this motion is completely within the judge’s purvey, but generally speaking the judge will grant the motion to reopen,  accept the credit management certificate, grant the discharge, and then close the re-opened case.

In short, if your case is closed without a discharge, don’t walk, but run to your phone and call you attorney, all the work you did and money you spent may be in danger of going right down the drain.

Once upon a time Jim Kutkowski did fail to get the his client’s credit management certificate filed on time and the case was closed without discharge.  Eating $260 was certainly enough “stupid tax” to make sure that never happens again.  If you want an attorney who will admit to and learn from his mistakes, call 610-928-1233 to set up a  free consultation.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Retha Brown March 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

I have a question. When a case gets closed without discharge, does that mean that the customer is out of bankruptcy and we can go back to normal collection practices?

J. Kutkowski September 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

That would be legal advice, which I don’t give on the blog. Feel free to call the office and I can put you in touch with some ethical debt collection attorneys… yes they exist.

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