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FAQ / What is the difference between the petition date and the date of the 'order for relief' in a case?

The general rule in bankruptcy cases filed voluntarily by a debtor under the Bankruptcy Code is that the filing of the bankruptcy petition with the bankruptcy court constitutes the "order for relief" in the case. Thus, in voluntary cases, the date the bankruptcy petition is filed (the "petition date") is also the date of the order for relief. In involuntary cases commenced by the filing of a petition by one or more of the debtor’s creditors (or a general partner of a partnership debtor), absent the consent of or subsequent voluntary filing by the debtor, an order for relief is only entered if the petition is not timely controverted by the debtor (or a general partner of a partnership debtor that did not join in the petition) or if, after trial, the bankruptcy court finds that grounds exist for sustaining the involuntary petition. Thus, the date of the order for relief in involuntary cases always occurs after the petition date. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the conversion of a case from a case proceeding under one chapter (i.e., chapter 11) to a case proceeding under another chapter (i.e., chapter 7), constitutes an order for relief under the new chapter and, under certain circumstances, the conversion order operates as if the conversion order is the order for relief in the case.

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