How long does Chapter 7 bankruptcy take?

3,729 families have filed bankruptcy using Upsolve

In a Nutshell

How long does Chapter 7 bankruptcy take? Upsolve explains how long it takes to get a discharge from start to finish.

Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts.  
Updated August 11, 2020

Do you have debts that you cannot pay? Are you struggling each month to pay basic living expenses? Have you resorted to borrowing from one credit card to pay another credit card bill? If so, you may need to consider filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Chapter 7 is Not a Bad Thing

Many people are frightened of filing Chapter 7. They assume they will lose all their property when they file a bankruptcy case under Chapter 7. Some people assume filing Chapter 7 takes a long time. Other individuals believe they will never repair their credit scores.

Whatever reason is keeping you from exploring bankruptcy debt relief options, let Upsolve explain how a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case may be the best option you have for getting out of debt.

Upsolve is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping low-income individuals and families get a fresh start to recover after a financial crisis. Click here to see if you're eligible to use Upsolve's free tool and be on your way to a debt-free life.

How Long Does Chapter 7 Take to File?

You can file a Chapter 7 case as quickly as you can gather the information to prepare the Chapter 7 paperwork. Upsolve’s unique online system helps you gather the information you need to complete the bankruptcy forms to file with the Bankruptcy Court. You can work at a speed that is comfortable for you.

Once you complete the bankruptcy forms with the help of our bankruptcy software, you are ready to file your Chapter 7 petition, schedules, and statements with the Bankruptcy Court. Depending on where you live, you can drive to the court to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, or you can mail your bankruptcy forms. As soon as the Clerk of Court receives your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the clerk’s office assigns a bankruptcy case number, and your case is filed.

We understand that you are ready to get out of debt. Therefore, Upsolve has designed a system that assists you in preparing your bankruptcy forms quickly and with as little stress as possible. Try it now for free!

How Long Does Chapter 7 Take to Close?

Most no-asset Chapter 7 cases close within four to six months after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed. If your case is an asset Chapter 7 case, it could take a year or more for your case to close. However, we explain in more detail below, most Chapter 7 cases filed are no-asset cases.

Are There Things That Can Make a Chapter 7 Take Longer to Complete?

Yes, several things can happen to make a Chapter 7 case take longer to complete.

Some individuals take more time to complete their bankruptcy forms than other individuals. It is up to you how quickly you complete your bankruptcy forms and file them with the Bankruptcy Court.

Filing incomplete bankruptcy forms can cause your Chapter 7 case to take longer to complete. If the Chapter 7 trustee, the Clerk of Court, or the United States Trustee requires amended bankruptcy forms, your case could remain open longer than usual.

Also, failing to provide the required information to the court or the Chapter 7 trustee can make the Chapter 7 case remain open longer than normal. It is important to provide the requested information and documentation immediately to the court and the Chapter 7 trustee.

If the Chapter 7 trustee decides to evaluate assets, the case could remain open longer. Providing accurate information can reduce the chance the Chapter 7 trustee reviews the case more closely.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to foresee each potential issue that could cause a Chapter 7 case to take longer than four to six months to complete. However, filing accurate, complete bankruptcy forms, attending the First Meeting of Creditors, and completing your bankruptcy course on time helps keep your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case timeline from being extended.

What is Chapter 7?

Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code is typically referred to as the liquidation chapter of bankruptcy. In a Chapter 7 case, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee has the authority to liquidate the debtor’s property to pay unsecured debts. Because a few debtors may lose one or two assets in a Chapter 7 case, many people are afraid they will lose everything if they file Chapter 7.

The fact is that most of the Chapter 7 cases filed in the United States are no-asset cases. In a no-asset Chapter 7 case, the debtor keeps all his or her property. The debtor does not lose any property in a no-asset Chapter 7 case! How can you file Chapter 7 and keep your property? You use bankruptcy exemptions to protect the equity in your property.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Exemptions Protect Property

When you file a bankruptcy case, you can use various bankruptcy exemptions to protect the equity in certain property from creditors and the court. The federal bankruptcy exemptions allow debtors to protect property, including but not limited to: • Homes • Vehicles • Clothing and personal property • Retirement benefits • Pensions • Government benefits, such as unemployment benefits, veteran’s benefits, workers’ compensation, disability, food stamps, etc. • Jewelry • Health aids • Unmatured life insurance • Tools of the trade • Child support, alimony, and domestic support payments • Personal injury awards

The federal bankruptcy exemptions for Chapter 7 also includes a wildcard exemption that may be used to protect property in some cases.

State Bankruptcy Exemptions

Some debtors in Chapter 7 can choose state bankruptcy exemptions. States have the authority to enact bankruptcy exemptions. Depending on your state, you may be required to use state exemptions. However, some states allow Chapter 7 debtors to choose between state bankruptcy exemptions and federal bankruptcy exemptions.

As mentioned above, most Chapter 7 cases filed in the United States are no-asset cases. Debtors are able to protect the equity in all their property by using bankruptcy exemptions.

If you want to find out if your property will be protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, contact Upsolve for a no-cost bankruptcy analysis. Do not let the fear of losing property stop you from receiving free bankruptcy help today.

What Happens After A Chapter 7 Case is Closed?

If you attend the First Meeting of Creditors, complete both bankruptcy courses, and file all required documents, you should receive your bankruptcy discharge in about six months after filing your bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy discharge eliminates your legal liability for repaying discharged debts.

Federal bankruptcy laws prohibit creditors from attempting to collect a discharged debt. In other words, a creditor cannot call you, send you letters, or file a debt collection lawsuit to collect a discharged debt.

Most unsecured debts are eligible for a discharge under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code. Examples of unsecured debts that may be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case include: • Credit card debts • Personal loans • Medical bills • Old rent payments • Some old personal income taxes • Utility bills, including electric bills, gas bills, trash collection bills, and cell phone bills • Advance payday loans • Some judgment debts

Some debts are not eligible for a bankruptcy discharge under any chapter of bankruptcy. Alimony, child support, and restitution are not eligible for a discharge. Most student loans are also not eligible for a bankruptcy discharge. However, some debtors may qualify for a hardship discharge of student loans.

Are you ready to get rid of your debts? Start the Upsolve bankruptcy process now free of charge to see if filing Chapter 7 is the best way for you to get out of debt.

Why Do People file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

There are many reasons why someone may need to file for debt relief under Chapter 7. The court does not judge a person for filing Chapter 7. Bankruptcy relief is open to all individuals who qualify to file a bankruptcy case under the Bankruptcy Code.

Some of the common reasons why people may need to seek debt relief by filing a Chapter 7 case include: • Unemployment or temporary decrease in income • The death of a spouse • Divorce or separation • Sudden illness or accident resulting in substantial medical debts • Loss of a business or decrease in business revenues • Natural catastrophes, such as floods, hurricanes, tornados, or wildfires • Outliving retirement savings • Overuse of credit cards • Mismanagement of money and finances

The reasons for filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case are as varied and unique as the individuals who seek debt relief. The good news is that you may qualify for Chapter 7 regardless of the reason why you cannot pay your debts.

The first step is to take advantage of Upsolve’s free Chapter 7 bankruptcy analysis. The analysis is confidential, and you are under no obligation to use our services after using our system to determine if Chapter 7 is right for you.

Do I Need a Bankruptcy Attorney to File Chapter 7?

The Bankruptcy Code does not require you to hire a bankruptcy lawyer to file a Chapter 7 case. However, if you can afford a bankruptcy attorney, you may want to consult with a lawyer. Bankruptcy attorneys provide a valuable service to individuals who need debt relief.

However, we realize that some individuals may not be able to afford to pay a bankruptcy attorney for help. That is why we created Upsolve. Our non-profit organization assists individuals who need to file Chapter 7 but who cannot afford to pay an attorney for assistance.

Upsolve provides Chapter 7 bankruptcy services at no cost. Watch videos of our past users explain how they were able to get a fresh start by using our services and then decide if Upsolve’s system for filing Chapter 7 may be something you are interested in pursuing. You can file Chapter 7 without an attorney. We can help!

Benefits of Filing for Debt Relief Under Chapter 7

There are many benefits of filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition. Some of the ways that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can help you right now and in the future include: • Stop creditor harassment. When you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, the bankruptcy automatic stay prevents creditors from continuing to collect debts without court approval. • Get rid of most, if not all, unsecured debts. You are not required to pay any debts discharged through your Chapter 7 case. • Allow you to keep your home and car by giving you more money each month to pay secured payments. Once you get rid of unsecured debts, you may have enough money to make car payments and mortgage payments. • Improve your credit score. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can help you improve your credit rating within a year or two after filing for bankruptcy relief. You can find information online for improving your credit score after bankruptcy. • Reduce stress and anxiety. Dealing with creditors and debt problems can be extremely stressful. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can relieve the stress by eliminating debts quickly and efficiently. • Allows you to improve your financial well-being. By receiving a fresh start with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you can begin saving for your future. Debtors learn many ways to improve financial well-being through the Debtor Education Course they are required to complete as part of their bankruptcy filing.

Discover how filing a Chapter 7 case can help you. Begin the process of filing a Chapter 7 case without an attorney now with Upsolve. We want to help you get rid of debts you cannot pay.

What Happens if I Cannot Qualify for Chapter 7?

In some cases, a person may make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7 case. However, that does not mean the person cannot file for bankruptcy relief. Chapter 13 allows a person to reorganize their debts. Chapter 13 takes longer than a Chapter 7 case to complete, and debtors must pay back a portion of their debts through a Chapter 13 plan.

Our bankruptcy software will help you determine if you qualify for a Chapter 7 case. If you do not qualify for Chapter 7, you can typically locate a bankruptcy attorney in your area that provides free bankruptcy consultations so that you can learn more about Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and other fforms of debt relief.

About the author
Attorney Jonathan Petts

Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in... read more

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.


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