How Long Does it Take to File Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Filing for bankruptcy is a difficult decision for many to make, but it can often be the best path back to financial stability. The prospect of the fresh start often has individuals faced with this decision eager to be able to get started and re-build their credit. Therefore people often want to know exactly how long the period of time is from the filing of bankruptcy to the discharge of that bankruptcy. While each case is unique, it is possible to offer ballpark estimates for the duration of a bankruptcy proceeding.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the “classic” liquidation form of bankruptcy. Some attorneys may refer to Chapter 7 as a “straight bankruptcy”. An experienced bankruptcy attorney would advise you that in order to qualify for “straight bankruptcy” you would need to pass a “means test”. Assuming your attorney determines that you would pass the means test, under Chapter 7, an average case could receive a bankruptcy discharge within four-to-six months.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a form of bankruptcy often referred to as reorganization. Chapter 13 provides for a financial reorganization by a United States Bankruptcy Court. Individuals who do not meet the means test for Chapter 7 often choose Chapter 13 instead. Although you will have a payment plan in order to reduce your debt, the good news is that Chapter 13, for the most part, permits you to retain your property (homes and cars.) While every case is different, an average Chapter 13 case is more complex, and thus requires more time. It typically will take between three and five years to pay off the debts on the payment plan. At the end of that period, provided payments were made on time, remaining debts will be ordered discharged.

Which form of bankruptcy you choose will be the biggest factor in determining how long it will take from filing to discharge. Keep in mind that every case is different and there may be other factors outside of your control which effect the duration of the proceedings. There has been an increase in bankruptcy filings in recent years and cases are sometimes moving more slowly than in the past. In any case, remember, don’t wait until your discharge date to start saving. The money you save today and the good financial habits you establish today will help you keep your credit clean and rebuild credit history when you do receive your discharge.

If you are seeking a bankruptcy attorney

If you are thinking about getting a fresh start by filing bankruptcy, you should contact one of the experienced consumer bankruptcy attorneys at Maselli Warren, P.C.  We can help you navigate teh complicated filing process and decide which type of bankruptcy is best for your situation.  To schedule a free consultation, click here.