The bankruptcy discharge varies
depending on the type of case a debtor
files: chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13. This
Public Information Series pamphlet
attempts to answer some basic ques-
tions about the discharge available to
individual debtors under all four chap-
1. What is a discharge in bankruptcy?
2. When does the discharge occur?
3. How does the debtor get a dis-
4. Are all the debtor’s debts discharged
or only some?
5. Does the debtor have a right to a dis-
charge or can creditors object to the
6. Can the debtor receive a second dis-
charge in a later chapter 7 case?
7. Can the discharge be revoked?
8. May the debtor pay a discharged
debt after the bankruptcy case has been
9. What can the debtor do if a creditor
attempts to collect a discharged debt
after the case is concluded?
10. May an employer terminate a
debtor’s employment solely because the
person was a debtor or failed to repay
a discharged debt?
From an individual
debtor’s standpoint, one
of the primary goals of
filing a bankruptcy case
is to obtain relief from
burdensome debt. Relief
is attained through the
bankruptcy discharge, the
purpose of which is to
provide a “fresh start”
to the honest debtor.
6 • THE DISCHARGE IN BANKRUPTCY
WHAT IS A DISCHARGE
Under the federal bankruptcy statute, a
discharge is a release of the debtor
from personal liability for certain spec-
ified types of debts. In other words, the
debtor is no longer required by law to
pay any debts that are discharged. The
discharge operates as a permanent
order directed to the creditors of the
debtor that they refrain from taking
any form of collection action on dis-
charged debts, including legal action
and communications with the debtor,
such as telephone calls, letters, and
Although a debtor is relieved of per-
sonal liability for all debts that are dis-
charged, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon
specific property to secure payment of a
debt) that has not been avoided (i