The U.S. Bankruptcy Code requires debtors to participate in a pre-filing credit counseling session and a subsequent pre-discharge debtor education course. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) maintains a list of credit counseling and debtor education agencies that are approved by the U.S. trustees in the Northern District of Georgia. Some agencies approved for Georgia debtors are located outside of the state and typically conduct classes via telephone or online.
You must complete your credit counseling within the 180 days prior to filing your bankruptcy petition. You may opt for an in-person, online or telephone session and, if English is your second language, classes in other languages are available. Your credit counseling session should take about 30 to 60 minutes, during which the counselor reviews your expenses and income and may advise you on developing a personal budget. At the conclusion of your session, the agency issues you a certificate that must be filed with the bankruptcy court.
The trustee will not close your case until you have completed the pre-discharge debtor education requirement. Your debtor education class should take about two hours, during which you learn about:
- Developing an effective budget
- Managing your money
- Using credit wisely
The agency issues you a certificate as proof that you successfully completed the class, which must be filed with the bankruptcy court.
Your lawyer can provide you with important information about pre-petition and pre-discharge bankruptcy courses and can recommend agencies approved to fulfill these requirements.