One of the most common questions from people considering filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is how long does it take? The average case takes around six months, but the actual time frame largely depends on you. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be divided into two phases: Phase 1 is preparing to file the bankruptcy, and Phase 2 is what happens after the bankruptcy case is filed.
Phase 1: How long does it take to prepare and file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?
How long it takes to prepare to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is largely in your control. Preparing a bankruptcy petition requires lots of detailed information about your finical situation. We depend on you to give the necessary information and documents to us. You are the best, and sometimes only, person in the position provide this information and to obtain the necessary documents. Most clients take two to four months to complete this step of the process, but things can move much faster if you are well organized and respond quickly.
Phase 2: How long does it take once a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is filed?
Once your case is filed, the discharge a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is typically granted in about 3-4 months. How long it takes for you to get your discharge in is mostly out of your control. After the case is filed the Court will schedule a Meeting of the Creditors, which you must attend. The Meeting of the Creditors is usually scheduled 4-6 weeks after you file the petition. The Notice of the Meeting of the Creditors will also contain deadlines for other filings. These deadlines are typically give creditors 60 days from the conclusion of the Meeting of the Creditors to file objections. Because objections are rare in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy you can expect to receive your discharge shortly after the deadline expires.
Additional factors that can affect how long a Chapter 7 bankruptcy takes
There are many factors that can affect how long a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take. In Phase 1 of a bankruptcy we are completely dependent upon you to provide us with information. We do not know anything about you except what you tell us. Filing a case can be delayed if the information you give us is incomplete, inaccurate, or disorganized. A filing can also be delayed by failing to utilize the technology we have in place to streamline the process. We have a cloud-based document management system in place to allow documents quickly and easily to be shared with us. If you chose to mail your documents to us, we must receive, process, and scan them. This means it may take us weeks instead of minutes to be able to utilize those documents.
During Phase 2 there are many events that can delay a discharge. For instance, anything which requires the Meeting of the Creditors to be re-scheduled will push back the deadline for filing objections and as a result your discharge. The Meeting of the Creditors may be re-scheduled due to the discovery of the need to amend the petition and schedules, if you fail to appear, or if you don't have the proper identification (i.e. Driver’s License and Social Security Card). If you own your home or a vehicle loan and you want to negotiate a re-affirmation agreement or redeem the property this too might cause a delay in your discharge. Finally, in event that there is any objection or other issue that needs to be decided by the court could also cause a delay in your discharge.