Bankruptcy chapters 7 and 13 are the most commonly filed by consumers. Although each are under the umbrella of general bankruptcy proceedings, they are complete opposites. Chapter 7 is a complete wipe of your debts and chapter 13 is a restructuring/reorganization with creditors. Each have different amounts of time to reach discharge.
Time From Beginning to End of Chapter 7
It can be as little as four months and as many as five from the time of filing to discharge. A case that has no objections from the trustee or creditors will last about four months. A technical issue, such as a having to clarify an issue to a trustee, will add more time to the process. A filer can expect to have their 341 hearing 45 to 60 days after filing, and another 45 to 60 days to discharge. Dates are determined by the court and its caseload.
Allow some additional time before the filing for pre-bankruptcy counseling. A filer must have completed a course before being allowed to file. Obtaining a certificate will require a few hours of time.
Bankruptcy Process Length of Chapter 13
The time from filing to 341 hearing is the same as a chapter 7. And that's where the similarities between the two end. Filing a chapter 13 means that the debtor is showing intent to pay back their debts. The court gives anywhere from 36 to 65 months to achieve the goal. Upon completion of all payments, provided all required payments have been made, the court will discharge the remaining balances.
A filer is required to include a repayment plan with the petition. It's not required at time of filing itself, but does have to be in the court's hands no later than 15 days after the initial filing. The amount of time necessary for repayment is determined on form B22C. In essence, the filer gets to choose how long their bankruptcy lasts.
Consulting a Bankruptcy Lawyer
It's a good idea to talk to a lawyer, at the very least, before starting the bankruptcy process.. The procedure is not simple, even for those who are filing a no-asset chapter 7 case. A bankruptcy attorney will have the know-how on which chapter to file, how to fill out the forms and how your case will progress in the court. It is strongly advised for someone filing a chapter 13 to have an attorney for the entire process. 13 is much more complicated than 7 and may need a lawyer to step in for you from time to time.