How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?

Each chapter of bankruptcy has a different timeline that determine how quickly the bankruptcy will be over. The cases also vary considerably depending on each individual debtor’s needs and requirements. The amount of time it takes can also be measured in several different parts.

The first portion of any total bankruptcy timeline begins at the initial consultation. This time varies considerably depending on the particular debtor. Preparing a bankruptcy filing involves significant amounts of information regarding the person’s assets, income, creditors, and financial history. How quickly those documents are provided to the attorney determines how fast the attorney can prepare the bankruptcy petition. In our firm’s experience these complete filings take between three and four weeks for the client to bring all the requested documents in; however this is determined entirely by the bankruptcy debtor’s responsiveness. In certain cases, the debtor can file skeleton petitions which take an experienced attorney minimal time to prepare; however these have several disadvantages that should be discussed with your attorney.

The second portion, which is the post-filing timeline varies largely upon the type of bankruptcy filed. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing usually are over in 3 to 6 months. There is a fairly short timeline that is followed. When a Chapter 7 case is filed, the last day to oppose a discharge is set around three months after the filing date. Usually the bankruptcy is closed shortly after that date assuming all other pending issues are resolved. Cases can be extended due to US Trustee objections, pending sales, or other last minute adjustments that impose their own timeline on the bankruptcy case.

Chapter 13 bankruptcies have a much longer timeline due to the fixed repayment period. Chapter 13 plans must run at least 3 years, but no more than 5. The majority of cases will fall within that two year range depending on how much debts need to be repaid and the income of the debtor. In certain cases the debtor can end the Chapter 13 bankruptcy in less than 3 years, you can talk with your attorney regarding this option and if it is available to you. In the event that some motion or filing is done near the end of the bankruptcy that imposes its own timeline on the case, then that would stretch out the matter longer.

In consumer cases, it is possible to switch between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases, thus adjusting the expected timeline to the relevant type of case.


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