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How Long Does Bankruptcy Take?

Most filers, before committing to a personal bankruptcy case, want to know how long bankruptcy takes. And it's wise to take a bankruptcy case's duration into consideration. Here's a look at the two types of personal bankruptcy and how long each typically lasts.

How Long Does Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Take?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which offers filers a full discharge of their eligible unsecured debts, moves quickly: most filers can expect a discharge within four to six months of filing. In that time, a filer can expect the following:

  • A credit counseling session: Before submitting a bankruptcy petition with the court, all filers must complete a credit counseling session with an approved credit counseling agency.
  • Submission of paperwork: Filers submit forms detailing their income, debts, assets and expenses. The court uses this to determine the merit of the case.
  • Creditors meeting: Here, the filer must testify to the truth and accuracy of all information included in the bankruptcy forms.
  • Financial management course: All filers have to complete this course (also called "debtor education") in order to be eligible for a debt discharge.
  • Debt discharge: Assuming everything goes well, the court excuses a filer's eligible debt and the filer's case is completed.

How Long Does Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Take?

This type of bankruptcy lasts longer because it requires filers to make significant repayments to their creditors. A typical Chapter 13 bankruptcy case lasts three to five years. In that time, a filer can expect the following:

  • A credit counseling session: The credit counseling course is required before filing any type of consumer bankruptcy.
  • Submission of paperwork: In Chapter 13 cases, filers must also submit a repayment plan to the court. This plan outlines how the filer will repay major creditors.
  • Creditors meeting: A court appearance, usually with the case Trustee, in which the filer swears under oath to the truth of the information in the filing.
  • Monthly repayment: Every month for the duration of the case, the filer must submit a payment to the trustee in charge of the case. The Trustee distributes that money among the filer's creditors as outlined in the repayment plan.
  • Financial management course: Before the end of the case, this education course must be completed, with the goal of giving the filer the financial footing for life after bankruptcy.
  • Bankruptcy discharge: Filers who adhere to their repayment plans for the duration of their cases can expect a discharge at the end of the repayment period. In some cases, the bankruptcy court discharges any unsecured debt that remains at the end of the repayment period.

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