Exceptions to Bankruptcy's Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Requirements

There are a few exceptions to bankruptcy's credit counseling and debtor education requirements.

When you file a consumer bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or 13 of the Bankruptcy Code, you are required to complete a credit counseling course before you file your bankruptcy and a debtor education course after you file but before you receive your discharge.

(Get details about bankruptcy's pre-bankruptcy credit counseling requirement and the pre-discharge debtor education requirement.)

There are exceptions to the counseling requirements. However these exceptions only apply in very specific circumstances. Below are the reasons for which you may request that the court to waive your credit counseling and debtor education course requirements.

The United States Trustee or bankruptcy administrator determines that no courses are available in your district. This exception isn't likely to apply because you can complete the courses in person, over the telephone, or online, meaning they are available to practically everyone.

You had to file bankruptcy immediately to avoid substantial, immediate harm. This is the "exigent circumstances" exception. You must have contacted an agency that provides the credit counseling course, were unable to complete the course within seven days of contacting the agency, and had to file your bankruptcy immediately. Exigent circumstances mean that you had to file your bankruptcy right away to prevent some type of significant harm, such as a wage garnishment or sheriff sale.

This exception is only a temporary "band-aid," and you will be required to complete the course within 30 days of filing your bankruptcy (although the court may grant you an additional fifteen days), unless you prove to the court that one of the other exceptions applies.

You are incapacitated, have a disability, or are on active military duty in a combat zone. A claim of incapacitation requires a showing that you suffer from a mental illness or impairment to such an extent that you are not capable of understanding or making rational decisions about your finances. In order for the court to waive the counseling requirement due to disability, your physical impairment must physically prevent you from completing the course in person, over the phone, or online.

To learn about other bankruptcy requirements and procedures, see our Filing for Bankruptcy and the Bankruptcy Process area.

Disability Eligibility Quiz Take our bankruptcy quiz to identify potential issues and learn how to best proceed with your bankruptcy case.

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