How long does filing bankruptcy take?

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Filing for bankruptcy is a complex legal process that can provide relief for individuals and businesses facing overwhelming debt. However, many people are often left wondering how long the bankruptcy process takes. The duration of a bankruptcy case can vary depending on several factors, including the type of bankruptcy filed, the complexity of the case, and the efficiency of the debtor and their legal representation.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most common type of bankruptcy filed by individuals. It involves liquidating assets to repay creditors and obtaining a discharge of remaining eligible debts. The timeline for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case typically spans around three to six months.

The process begins with the debtor filing a petition with the bankruptcy court. Once the petition is filed, an automatic stay is put in place, which halts all collection efforts by creditors. The court will appoint a trustee to oversee the case and review the debtor’s assets and financial situation.

Within a few weeks of filing, the debtor must attend a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting. During this meeting, the trustee and any creditors who choose to attend can ask the debtor questions about their financial affairs. After the meeting, the trustee will determine if any non-exempt assets can be sold to repay creditors.

If no non-exempt assets are available, or if the trustee determines that the value of the assets is not worth selling, the debtor will receive a discharge of their eligible debts. This discharge typically occurs within a few months of the 341 meeting, marking the end of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an option for individuals with a regular income who want to repay their debts over a period of three to five years. This type of bankruptcy allows debtors to keep their assets while creating a manageable repayment plan.

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy process is more involved and can take longer than a Chapter 7 case. After filing the petition, the debtor must submit a proposed repayment plan to the court within 15 days. The plan outlines how the debtor will repay their debts over the specified period.

A meeting of creditors is also held in Chapter 13 cases, similar to Chapter 7. However, the trustee and creditors may have more questions about the proposed repayment plan. If the plan is approved by the court, the debtor will begin making payments to the trustee, who will distribute the funds to creditors according to the plan.

The duration of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case depends on the length of the repayment plan. Typically, it takes three to five years to complete the plan and receive a discharge of remaining eligible debts. Throughout this period, the debtor must adhere to the terms of the plan and make timely payments.


The length of time it takes to complete a bankruptcy case depends on various factors, including the type of bankruptcy filed and the complexity of the case. Chapter 7 bankruptcies generally take around three to six months, while Chapter 13 bankruptcies can span three to five years. It’s important for individuals considering bankruptcy to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney to understand the specific timeline for their situation.


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– Internal Revenue Service:
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