How Long Does Filing Chapter 7 Take?
For those who are struggling with debt and experiencing harassment from creditors, time is of the essence. This can be especially true when it comes to getting finances back on track and restoring a sense of normalcy to life. You, or someone you know, may be considering filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy but are unsure about how long the filing process takes.
Typically, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is relatively quick to complete. Your bankruptcy case could be completed and discharged within 3-6 months of filing bankruptcy.
However, there are some important dates that can affect your right to file a case and obtain relief. The following filing timeline illustrates the relevant dates in a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. A bankruptcy attorney can help you see what details may affect your case.
The Chapter 7 Timeline
6-8 Years Before Your Bankruptcy
If you received a Chapter 13 or Chapter 12 discharge in a case filed within the previous six years. you will be eligible for a Chapter 7 discharge generally if, in the prior case, you paid at least 70 percent of your allowed unsecured claims, and your plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort.
You are ineligible for a Chapter 7 discharge until eight years from the date you filed a prior Chapter 7 and received a discharge.
1 Year Before Your Bankruptcy
- If you have tried to delay or defraud your creditors by transferring, hiding, or destroying your property within the 1-year period prior to your bankruptcy, the court may deny you a Chapter 7 discharge and even allow your creditors to recover the property that you transferred.
- Also, if you pay back one of your creditors who is also a relative or close business associate ("insider") at any time within the 1-year period prior to the filing of your bankruptcy case, the payment may be deemed an unlawful preference and the court may recover all such payments and distribute them to your other creditors.
- If you had a prior bankruptcy case dismissed within one year of the time you file a Chapter 7 case, the Automatic Stay entered in the Chapter 7 case will be terminated within 30 days unless you can demonstrate that the Chapter 7 case was filed in good faith.
180 Days Before Your Bankruptcy
If within 180 days before your
bankruptcy you had a prior bankruptcy case that was dismissed because you failed to obey court orders or you voluntarily requested a dismissal, then you may not file your bankruptcy case until this 180-day period expires.
Also, within the 180 days before your bankruptcy filing, you must receive an individual or group briefing from an approved nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency.
90 Days Before Your Bankruptcy
- You must be a resident of the state in which you intend to file your bankruptcy case for at least 90 days before the filing. If you have not lived in the state in which you intend to file your case for at least 90 days, you may only file your case in the state where you have resided, or which has been the location of your principal assets, for a majority of the prior 180 days.
- Also, if you pay back any of your creditors, even one who is not a relative or close business associate ("insider"), at any time within the 90-day period prior to the filing of your bankruptcy case, the payment may be considered an unlawful preference and the court may recover all such payments and distribute them to your other creditors.
- If you incurred new credit of $500 or more for "luxury goods or services" within the 90-day period before your bankruptcy, or if you obtain a cash advance in the amount of $750 within 70-day period before your bankruptcy, the debt is presumed to be non-dischargeable.
- Your case is formally commenced when you file your bankruptcy petition with the appropriate bankruptcy court. In most cases, as soon as you file your petition, the court will enter an Automatic Stay order prohibiting your creditors from taking or continuing any collection or legal action against you. This means no more harassing letters or phone calls for as long as the automatic stay remains in effect, generally for the duration of your bankruptcy case.
- Next, the court will send a notice of your case to all of the creditors listed in your petition.
- Additionally, the bankruptcy court will assign a bankruptcy trustee to oversee your case. The trustee is a federal employee appointed by the court to monitor your case and make sure you are eligible for bankruptcy. The trustee will review your petition, make sure that it is complete, and then schedule a meeting of your creditors.