Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the quickest and most common type of bankruptcy filed in America today, but have you ever wondered exactly how long it takes to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy? Below is a generic timeline for what to expect. As you will see, the time it takes to file a bankruptcy is quite dependant upon the debtor taking proactive steps to further the process.
- Hire an attorney – The time you take to find and hire an attorney is completely up to you. This process will include initial consultations, discussion of your debt situation, conversations about fees and court costs, and ultimately the signing of a contract for services.
- Providing documents – Once you have met with your new bankruptcy lawyer you will most likely be provided with a list of financial paperwork that you must provide in order for the case to proceed. This documentation can include pay stubs, bank statements, tax returns, mortgage documents, car loan information, etc. If you are struggling to obtain any of this information you should let your attorney know immediately. Failure to provide these documents will stall the completion of your case.
- Drafting the petition – The official court document that is required to file a bankruptcy is called the petition and it will be drafted by your attorney once they have received the necessary documents from you. The time it takes your attorney to draft the petition will depend on his/her workload, the complexity of your case, and other variables. However, you should request an estimate of when your petition will be completed so you can be prepared for the next step.
- Review of petition – In order to make sure all of the information listed is correct, your attorney may want to schedule an in person meeting with you to go over the petition they just drafted. This will only take about an hour.
- Filing of Petition & Hearing – After you review the petition with your attorney they will file it with the bankruptcy court. This will involve a filing fee of $306. Thirty to Forty-Five days after the filing of the petition you will be required to attend a court hearing with your attorney where a bankruptcy trustee will review your case. This takes 10-15 minutes.
- Discharge of Debts – 60-90 days after your official bankruptcy hearing you will receive discharge papers in the mail stating that your Chapter 7 bankruptcy has been successfully completed. This means that your unsecured debt has been eliminated.
The truth is that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can take as long as you want it to take. During my time as a bankruptcy paralegal I saw Chapter 7 cases filed in 14 days, or cases that were still waiting to be filed 2 years after the debtor hire our firm. Be a proactive debtor and gather your documents quickly, communicate constantly with your attorney, and ask plenty of questions.