How long does bankruptcy take to discharge?

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Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps individuals or businesses struggling with overwhelming debt to find relief and start anew. However, the duration of the bankruptcy process can vary depending on several factors. In this article, we will explore how long it typically takes for bankruptcy to be discharged.

Types of Bankruptcy

Before delving into the timeline, it’s important to understand the different types of bankruptcy. The two most common types are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: This type of bankruptcy involves the liquidation of assets to pay off debts. It is typically a faster process compared to Chapter 13.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Unlike Chapter 7, Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves creating a repayment plan to pay off debts over a period of three to five years. This type of bankruptcy takes longer to discharge but allows individuals to keep their assets.

Timeline for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

The timeline for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the efficiency of the bankruptcy court. However, on average, it takes approximately three to six months from the filing date to the discharge.

Filing the Petition: The first step in the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process is filing the petition with the bankruptcy court. This initiates the case and triggers an automatic stay, which halts collection actions from creditors.

Meeting of Creditors: Within 30 to 45 days after filing the petition, a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting, is scheduled. During this meeting, the bankruptcy trustee reviews the case and allows creditors to ask questions about the debtor’s financial situation.

Asset Liquidation: If there are non-exempt assets, the bankruptcy trustee may sell them to repay a portion of the debts. However, most Chapter 7 cases are “no-asset” cases, meaning there are no assets available for liquidation.

Discharge: Once the meeting of creditors is concluded and any necessary asset liquidation is completed, the court will issue a discharge order. This typically happens around three to six months after filing the petition. The discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for most debts and marks the completion of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

Timeline for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a longer timeline due to the repayment plan that must be created and followed. The process typically takes three to five years to complete.

Filing the Petition: Similar to Chapter 7, the process begins with filing the petition and triggering an automatic stay.

Meeting of Creditors: Within 30 to 45 days after filing, the meeting of creditors is scheduled. The bankruptcy trustee and creditors have the opportunity to review the proposed repayment plan during this meeting.

Confirmation of the Plan: After the meeting of creditors, a confirmation hearing is held to approve the proposed repayment plan. The court will review the plan to ensure it meets the necessary requirements and is feasible for the debtor to follow.

Repayment Period: Once the plan is confirmed, the debtor begins making regular payments to the bankruptcy trustee. These payments are used to repay creditors over a period of three to five years.

Completion of Payments: After completing all required payments under the repayment plan, the court will issue a discharge order. This marks the official discharge of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy.


The duration of bankruptcy proceedings depends on the type of bankruptcy filed. Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically takes around three to six months to discharge, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take three to five years. It’s important to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to understand the specific timeline and requirements for your individual case.


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