Once your bankruptcy case is finalized, you receive discharge papers that prove you no longer owe those included debts, according to the book “How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.” Keeping these papers is important as future lenders and employers might want to see this legal evidence. However, if you can’t find your bankruptcy discharge papers you can usually obtain new copies by using one of several available methods; bankruptcy case papers are public information under federal laws so it shouldn’t take too long to get new copies.
Visit your closest branch of the United States Bankruptcy Court, even if you didn’t file your case in that jurisdiction. You can find the appropriate location by visiting the U.S. Courts website (see Resources.)
Ask the court clerk if she can copy your bankruptcy discharge papers or point you to a self-service kiosk. Whether you use the clerk’s services or a courthouse kiosk, you must provide basic information such as your full name. The more you know about where and when you filed bankruptcy, the quicker you can get the discharge papers.
(References 1 and 2)
Pay any required copying fees; remember that bankruptcy courts do not accept credit card payments or personal checks from private citizens. As of 2010, you could expect to pay $.10 to $.50 per photocopy.
Call your bankruptcy lawyer as an alternative if you hired one for your case and would rather not deal with visiting the courthouse. Your attorney's staff members should be able to copy and mail these to you for a nominal fee. The actual cost and payment method depends upon the law practice you used and the provisions of your bankruptcy representation agreement.
Visit the PACER website and sign up for an account if you would rather not use any of the aforementioned methods to acquire copies of your bankruptcy discharge papers. As of 2010, it cost $.08 per page to research bankruptcy cases; you can print the documents from your computer. This government website accepts credit and debit card payments.
You can also acquire copies of other people's bankruptcy discharge papers by visiting the courthouse or using PACER as outlined in the steps above.
- "How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy"; 2009; Stephen Elias, Albin Renauer and Robin Leonard
- PACER: Frequently Asked Questions
- U.S. Courts. "Bankruptcy Basics," Pages 9–10. Accessed Aug. 1, 2020.
- U.S. Courts. "Bankruptcy Basics." Accessed Aug. 1, 2020.
- Federal Trade Commission. "Filing for Bankruptcy: What to Know." Accessed Aug. 1, 2020.
- U.S. Courts. "Bankruptcy Basics," Page 5. Accessed Aug 1, 2020.
- United States Department of Justice. "Private Trustee Information." Accessed August 1, 2020.
- HG.org. "What Does a Bankruptcy Trustee Do?" Accessed Aug. 1, 2020.
- Experian. "How to Remove Bankruptcy From Credit Report." Accessed Aug.1, 2020.
- Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Bankruptcy Fraud." Accessed Aug. 1, 2020.
- You can also acquire copies of other people's bankruptcy discharge papers by visiting the courthouse or using PACER as outlined in the steps above.
Stephanie Mojica has been a journalist since 1997 and currently works as a full-time reporter at the daily newspaper "The Advocate-Messenger" in Kentucky. Her articles have also appeared in newspapers such as "The Philadelphia Inquirer" and "The Virginian-Pilot," as well as several online publications. She holds a bachelor's degree from Athabasca University.