Can I file for bankruptcy before completing credit counseling?

While there are strict qualification requirements, it may be possible for a Minnesota resident to file for bankruptcy prior to completing credit counseling, which normally is not the case. Typically, a debtor who attempts to file for bankruptcy prior to doing so will have the case dismissed without getting a refund of any filing fees already paid. However, those who tried to get counseling before filing or had reasons why they couldn't obtain it may be allowed to proceed with their petition.

The court will use its own discretion when determining if an individual had an emergency that made credit counseling impossible prior to filing a bankruptcy petition. Debtors who wish to have the requirement waived will need to specifically state why they are asking for the waiver. In some cases, an individual may need to take the credit counseling course during the bankruptcy process.

Court clerks are not allowed to give legal advice or tell an individual whether his or her request will be denied. If a case is refiled within a year of the original case being dismissed, an automatic stay may only last for 30 days after the petition is refiled. A complete waiver of the credit counseling requirement may be granted to those who are in the military or those who have a disability.

Individuals who file for bankruptcy may wish to talk to an attorney before doing so. An attorney can help to ensure that the client meets all of the required obligations during the bankruptcy process. This may make it easier to have a bankruptcy case resolved and debts discharged in a timely manner.

Source: U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota, "Credit Counseling Warning", accessed on Feb. 13, 2015

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