The primary reason one files bankruptcy is to receive a discharge of debts. While some debts cannot be discharged, and others the debtor chooses not to discharge by reaffirming, the debtor almost certainly will have some debts he wants to discharge when he files.
I often get phone calls from clients in the middle of their Chapter 7 cases who are nervous that they have not heard any news lately or received a discharge. I always remind the debtor that creditors as well as their bankruptcy trustee(s), have 60 days after the meeting of creditors to object to discharge.
The meeting of creditors usually does not occur until at least a month after the case is filed. Combining that with the 60-day deadline means the debtor simply cannot get a discharge until at least three month after filing the case. The typical Chapter 7 lasts around 4 months.
It is important to note that a creditor or the trustee can file motions to extend time to object to discharge and these are routinely granted, particularly so when the debtor has not fully responded to any discovery attempts. Should someone file an objection to discharge, this is usually done by an adversary proceeding, and the debtor cannot ignore this if he wishes to get his discharge.
Finally, if the debtor receives a discharge, this does not mean the case is necessarily over. This is because the case could remain open to liquidate assets. The liquidation of assets, which rarely occurs in a Chapter 7 case, is an independent process from the discharge of the debtor.
This article was written by Peter Bricks. He is an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney, with offices in Jonesboro and Cumming, Georgia. He is a member of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys (NACBA) and a contributor to BankruptcyBlog.org.