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Bankruptcy Basics
Bankruptcy Judges Division
Administrative Office of the United States Courts
APRIL 2006
Revised Third Edition
For cases filed on or after October 17, 2005



The Discharge in Bankruptcy

Chapter 7. Liquidation Under the Bankruptcy Code

Chapter 13. Individual Debt Adjustment

Chapter 11. Reorganization Under the Bankruptcy Code

Chapter 12. Family Farmer Bankruptcy

Chapter 9. Municipality Bankruptcy

Chapter 15. Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases

SCRA. Servicemembers' Civil Relief Act

SIPA. Securities Investor Protection Act

Bankruptcy Terminology

The Discharge in Bankruptcy

What is a discharge in bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. In other words, the debtor is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the debtor from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor, such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts.

Although a debtor is not personally liable for discharged debts, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (i.e., made unenforceable) in the bankruptcy case will remain after the bankruptcy case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien.