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How Long Does the Bankruptcy Process Take?

Gathering financial information typically requires the most time in the bankruptcy process.
A court date is set once the bankruptcy papers are filed.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
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The time it takes a person to file for bankruptcy and have his or her debts discharged varies greatly. It depends on what type the person intends to file, and also how quickly he or she can gather together information about his or her income and debts. Most private individuals file either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, but the type of filing greatly changes the process.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common proceeding, and it is usually filed when a person doesn’t have a large number of assets that he or she needs to protect. Generally, the person uses a lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy to help file all the papers required. The part that typically requires the most amount of time when someone is preparing to file for Chapter 7 is gathering all the required information for the form. If a person owes money to numerous creditors, and these creditors have sold their accounts to collection agencies, it may be challenging to figure out who exactly is owed money.

Usually, a person must also provide statements about income, any assets, and tax reports as part of a Chapter 7 filing. If a person has not kept meticulous records of income or debt, it can be challenging to find out all this information. A lawyer may do some of the legwork by tracking down parties who have purchased the debt. All this information needs to be gathered prior to filing, when possible, so the bankruptcy is declared without complications.

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Usually, once the bankruptcy papers are officially filed, it takes a month or two, for a court date to be set. At that time, providing that all papers are in order, the court will declare the person bankrupt. This is the end of most debts, but some, like student loans, court feeds, and recent taxes owed, are not discharged. At minimum, the process takes about a month, and often takes longer. Once a person hires a lawyer, however, any calls from creditors can be referred to the legal professional, which may end harassment by creditors.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is meant to protect a person with a significant number of assets that go beyond normal living requirements. Instead of discharging debts, Chapter 13 works with creditors to reduce debts and come up with reasonable payments. Payment schedules can be constructed on a 3 to 5 year basis, which means that a person can expect to make payments monthly for this length of time. In this sense, though bankruptcy has been declared, the actual process last for several years.

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Discuss this Article

anon329017
Post 10

Student loans can be wiped out by bankruptcy depending on the circumstances. For example, if you have outstanding student loans averaging let's say, 60k and are only being paid $10 per hour, it is quite obvious you will never be able to pay those loans back. If you are on disability, they can also be wiped out. There are circumstances that allow these loans to be considered in a bankruptcy.

SarahSon
Post 9

Where is the best place to find accurate bankruptcy information? I have seriously been thinking about doing this, but before going ahead with this I want to make sure I won't lose my house. I also don't know where I would come up with the money for a bankruptcy attorney in order to get everything done. This is all very humbling to me and I was wondering if there was a place I could find answers to these questions online.

bagley79
Post 8

@Bhutan -- Yes, student loans are one thing that bankruptcy does not wipe out. I know because this personally happened to me. I wish more kids would stop and think how much student loan debt they are incurring when they are going to school.

I couldn't rely on my parents to help with my college expenses, so just kept taking out student loans to pay my way through school. It is so easy to get caught in this trap. I just naturally thought once I graduated I would get a great paying job and wouldn't have any trouble paying back the debt.

I had a hard time finding a job in my field, and had to settle for something that paid much less than I was expecting. I eventually had to file for bankruptcy, but the only way the student loan debt will go away is if I pay it all back myself.

julies
Post 7

There are many different reasons why someone has to file for bankruptcy. I know a family who had good paying jobs, handled their money responsibly and always paid their bills on time. They got hit with several things at once and eventually had to claim bankruptcy.

He lost his job and his wife was diagnosed with cancer. I think it was all the medical bills that was the straw that broke the camels back. Before this happened to them, I had read that medical bills was the number one reason for bankruptcy. After personally seeing a family go through this situation, I can understand why.

John57
Post 6

@anon123890 -- The bankruptcy process itself should only take a few months. For some people, it takes longer than that to get all their information in order and find all the necessary paperwork.

I have some good friends who finally decided to file for bankruptcy. Getting to this point was a long process, as they tried to avoid it for as long as possible. They had combined all their credit card payments but were still having a hard time making it.

Once they decided to go ahead with the bankruptcy process, it was almost like a huge relief. That still doesn't mean it isn't an emotional or painful experience, but to know their debts would be cancelled was a heavy burden that was lifted.

anon255308
Post 5

I took my paperwork, all my bills etc, to a lawyer in March of last year and paid up front. I still haven't heard back and call to check in. They said they were working on it about three weeks ago but have not contacted me since. Should I be worried? Should it be taking this long. I just want it filed so I can get on with my life.

anon123890
Post 4

how long is the process?

Bhutan
Post 3

Moldova- I just wanted to add that there are bankruptcy exemptions.

For example, student loans can not be eliminated in a bankruptcy.

Moldova
Post 2

I just wanted to add that after bankruptcy it is essential to rebuild your credit all over again.

According to Bankrate, opening an account at a bank and applying for a secured credit card should help.

A secured credit card is a prepaid credit card that is backed by your bank account. The credit amount is equal to funds that are frozen for the purpose of paying the credit card.

This waythe bank feels more comfortable with your new credit and you are able to begin the process of reestablishing you credit rating.

anon19061
Post 1

If someone owes you past rent and you were granted garnishment, can you be wiped out in the Chapter 7 and what are the chances of fighting not to be wiped out in the BK?

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