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What is the difference between a case being "discharged" and being "dismissed?"


All the difference in the world. When a case completes successfully, your debts are discharged (except for long-term debts like home mortgages, student loans and child support, and debts that you have reaffirmed). "Discharge" is good. It means that those debts are wiped out, and those creditors can never bother you about those debts again.

When a case is dismissed, that is usually bad news. It means that your case was closed, but it did not complete successfully. Your creditors would then have to right to take any legal collection actions against you, including lawsuits, garnishments, repossessions and foreclosures. The worst thing is often that they can go back and add penalties, interest and late fees, as if your bankruptcy case had never been filed.

If a case has been dismissed "with prejudice," it means that the judge felt like that debtor was abusing the bankruptcy system, so that debtor is not allowed to file a new case for 6 months. That usually gives creditors enough time to do whatever they need to do, such as foreclose on the mortgage, repossess property, or start a wage garnishment.