When you are nearing the end of your chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you may be wondering what the next steps you need to take are.   After you have paid your plan base, which is the amount of money the court determined you needed to pay over the course of your bankruptcy, which was three to five years in length, there are a few steps you need to take to ensure that you will receive a discharge in your case. 

 

The first step will be to complete a Financial Management Course, also known as a 2nd Certificate.  The Financial Management Course is a course that you take online or over the phone that asks you questions about your financial situation including things like your income, expenses, and types of property and other debts you may have.  This course is very similar to the course that you would have had to do to prior to filing your bankruptcy case, only it's considered a post-filing course.  Once you have answered all of the questions the course provides, you will need to have a copy of the certificate sent to your attorney so that he or she may file it with the court on your behalf.  While this course may seem unnecessary, it is something that the court requires you to take to be able to issue your discharge.  If you fail or refuse to complete the course by the deadline the court provides, your case will be closed without a discharge.   If your case is closed without a discharge, you would need to pay an attorney fee and a court cost to re-open your case to file this certificate, and these fees can reach as high as nearly $400. 

 

In addition to the Financial Management Course, the court also wants to ensure that you do not have any outstanding domestic support obligations, such as child or spousal support.  The court requires that you sign a form stating this, which is called a "Certification of Domestic Support Obligations" and that form needs to then be filed.  Basically, all you will need to do is check one of two options on this form, stating either you did not have any domestic support obligations, or you are current on your domestic support obligations.  If you do have outstanding child or spousal support due, you will need to catch this up immediately in order to receive your discharge.  

 

Once both the Financial Management Course and the Certification of Domestic Support Obligation are filed with the court, you will be able to receive your discharge order, and your case will be closed shortly thereafter.  If you happened to pay over the amount of your plan base, your trustee will return the funds you overpaid directly back to you.