Bankruptcy can be a complicated and paper intensive process. What some people may not realize is that the paperwork requirements begin before the petition is even filed. Every filer — regardless of whether filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 — must complete a credit counseling course within 180 days of the filing of the petition. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court must approve all credit counseling services, and a list of approved services for New Jersey residents is maintained by the court.
If the course is not completed, the court may dismiss the bankruptcy before it even begins. The course will examine your financial situation, discuss alternatives to bankruptcy and discuss a personal budget. The sessions can be conducted in person, online or over the telephone.
At the completion of the course, a certificate is provided that must be filed with the court. Before a discharge can be issued, a follow up debt management course must be completed as well. The certificate received from that course will also need to be filed.
When the bankruptcy laws were updated several years ago to include the means test, the credit counseling course and debt management course were added as well. They are designed to ensure that filers have explored other options prior to filing for bankruptcy and to prevent a second filing. If a New Jersey resident is not careful, this requirement can easily be overlooked, which will delay receiving the much needed protection and relief provided by the Bankruptcy Court. In order to ensure that none of the required steps or paperwork are missed, it may be beneficial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney.