My South Carolina bankruptcy clients are sometimes surprised to learn that they have to complete two courses on credit management before receiving a bankruptcy discharge. The first course is a credit-counseling course that you must complete before you file for bankruptcy. The second course is a debtor education course that you must complete before the bankruptcy court will grant you a bankruptcy discharge. Both courses cannot be completed at the same time. 


Pre-Filing Counseling Requirement

To fulfill your pre-filing credit counseling requirement, you must attend a counseling session with one of the U.S. Trustee Program’s approved organizations. Your Charleston, SC bankruptcy lawyer can refer you to an approved provider.  You must complete this course within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy.  If you take it too long before filing, you will need to take it again. 

The goal of the pre-filing counseling course is to explore all available solutions to your financial problems and to provide alternatives to filing for bankruptcy. During the counseling session, you and the credit counselor will examine your financial situation, and develop a budget that is personal to you. Even if the counselor suggests alternatives to bankruptcy, you do not need to follow the recommendations.

Most sessions last about an hour, and can occur over the phone, in person or online. Typically, the pre-filing counseling course will cost around $10 – $35 to complete. Upon the completion of the counseling course, you will receive a certificate of completion. Your South Carolina bankruptcy lawyer will need to file this certificate along with your bankruptcy petition. 

Pre-Discharge Education Course

Like the pre-filing counseling requirement, the pre-discharge education course must be taken with an approved organization. In contrast to the pre-filing counseling requirement, the pre-discharge education course is completed after you file for bankruptcy, but before you receive a bankruptcy discharge. The education course will address a variety of issues including how to use credit responsibly and developing a manageable budget. The course will last from one to two hours, and the fee for the course may be slightly higher than the fee for the pre-filing course. You will receive a certificate of completion after you finish the course that your Charleston, SC bankruptcy lawyer will file with the bankruptcy court.  It is a good idea to retain a copy of this certificate.

If you are having trouble paying your bills and are being harassed by your creditors, get help from an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. The South Carolina bankruptcy lawyers at Steadman Law Firm, P.A. can help make your life more manageable. Don’t wait for your situation to get worse. Call us today.