How Long Does a Bankruptcy Case Last?

Understandably, bankruptcy is something people like to put behind them. That’s the whole concept: a court proceeding and a fresh start. The two types of bankruptcy individuals file, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, have different timelines.

The timeline of a normal consumer Chapter 7 case: After a Chapter 7 case is filed, the court sets a date and time for a meeting of creditors. This date is usually about 30 days from the filing date, but it can be a bit longer during the winter holiday season. An important period is created based on this first-scheduled date of your creditor meeting: A 60-day period for creditors or the government to object to your discharge. This waiting period is the same in all Chapter 7 cases and is created by Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 4004. Usually there are no objections, so once the 60-day period passes, the Court issues you your discharge and the case is closed. To summarize, once filed, a Chapter 7 case lasts about three months. You can read more about Chapter 7 bankruptcy here.

The timeline of a Chapter 13 case: Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases last either three or five years. If you’re below median income based on family size (you can see the new median income figures effective May 1, 2012 here), your plan is three year; if you’re above median income based on family size, you’re plan is five years. See 11 U.S.C. 1325(b)(4). However, even though you’re still technically in bankruptcy during your repayment period, as long as you make your Chapter 13 payments and don’t return to the court for any extraordinary relief, you will have no contact with the bankruptcy court after your meeting of creditors, which like in a Chapter 7 case, will be about 30 days after your case is file.

You can read more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy here and choosing between chapters of bankruptcy here.

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