How to Find the Date a Bankruptcy Was Discharged

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

How to Find the Date a Bankruptcy Was Discharged

By Stephanie Kurose, J.D.

Finding your bankruptcy discharge order is the simplest way to find the date your bankruptcy was discharged. When a person files for bankruptcy, they eventually receive a bankruptcy discharge that signifies the end of the process and releases the debtor from personal liability for their debts. All debts involved in the bankruptcy case are no longer legally enforceable. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting any creditors listed in your bankruptcy petition from making any contact with you or taking any action to collect the discharged debts.

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If you plan on applying for credit after completing bankruptcy, new lenders may require you to provide proof that your discharge has taken place. If you are uncertain of the date of your bankruptcy discharge, there are a few different ways to find it.

Find the Original Discharge Order

This is the simplest way to find the date of your discharge. After your bankruptcy proceedings end, the bankruptcy court clerk must mail a copy of the initial discharge order to you. The clerk is only required to send new bankruptcy discharge notices, so if your discharge is old you may have to request one from the court.

If you file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy—typically the option for people with limited income who cannot repay their debts—it usually takes about three to four months after you file your initial bankruptcy petition to receive a discharge order. For Chapter 13 bankruptcies—which require the debtor to enter into a repayment plan to pay back the debts—you receive a discharge order upon completion of the repayment plan. Typically, repayment takes three to five years to complete.

If you either lost or misplaced the original discharge order, you can still ask for one from the bankruptcy court that handled your case. To do this, contact the clerk in the court that entered your discharge order. If you need to obtain a certified copy, you usually have to pay an additional fee. If your bankruptcy case is older and archived, the court may charge an additional fee to retrieve your order as it may take more time to locate your case. If all you are looking for is the date and do not need a physical copy of the discharge, a clerk may be willing to simply give you the information without charging a fee.

Search PACER

PACER, or "Public Access to Court Electronic Records," is an electronic database accessible to the public that provides information about all cases filed in federal courts, including bankruptcy courts. You can use PACER to find your discharge order.

To begin, you must register with the PACER Service Center. The registration is free and can be submitted electronically. However, PACER does charge a fee depending on how much you use the service. For example, while it charges a 10-cent fee for each page you search for, if you spend less than $15 in a three month period, the service is free to use. Thus, if you are just looking up your discharge order and not hundreds of other documents, the service will likely be free to use. When you access PACER, you must enter your case number into the search function to find all documents related to your bankruptcy case.

If you would like further assistance in obtaining your discharge order or accessing PACER, reach out to an online service provider who can help guide you through the process.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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