How to See If a Bankruptcy Has Been Discharged

A petition to file for bankruptcy note
Concept of filing a petition for bankruptcy | woodsy007/iStock/GettyImages

When a bankruptcy proceeding is completed, the debts involved in the proceeding and approved by the court are discharged, which means the debtor no long has to pay them. The court issues a discharge notice which is sent to the debtor and his attorney, if he has one, automatically. This form may be required if you go to make a large purchase, such as a new car or a home. If you don’t have your discharge notice handy, you can get a copy in several ways. If you aren't sure whether or not your bankruptcy has been discharged, or if you are looking for the status of someone else's bankruptcy, it's possible to find out.

Request the Notice Online

Bankruptcy discharge notices are public record and are available online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records, PACER, system. To access these records you must set up an account with the system. Once you have an account you can search for the status of a bankruptcy by entering the debtor's information. If it has been discharged you'll be able to see the date, and if you wish, you can get a copy of the discharge notice by ordering a download of the file. You are required to pay a small fee for this service; as of publication the fee is $0.10 per page.

Ask Your Attorney

Contact your attorney; she'll know if your case has been discharged yet or not. You can also ask her for a copy of your bankruptcy discharge notice. She should have the notice in her files and should be able to fax, email or regular mail the notice to you. Attorneys usually provide this service to their clients at no charge or for a small fee.

Contact the Court

The court that is handling -- or previously handled -- the bankruptcy proceedings can tell you if the bankruptcy has been discharged yet and can provide a copy of the notice if the discharge is complete. Since bankruptcy proceedings are public notice, anyone can contact the court clerk and request the information once the case has been filed. You may be required to fill out a form specifying the document that you want. There is typically a fee associated with this process. If the proceedings are older and have been placed in the court’s archives, you should expect additional fees for retrieving the notice. Archived records take longer to obtain.

Check the Debtor's Credit Report

According to the Experian credit bureau, once a bankruptcy is filed, it will quickly show up on the filer's credit report. Anyone who has access to credit reports, such as yourself or potential creditors, can see this information. After the bankruptcy has been discharged, the credit report will reflect that fact.