How long does it take to file bankruptcy?

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Filing for bankruptcy can be a complex and time-consuming process. It involves various legal procedures, paperwork, and court hearings. Many individuals and businesses considering bankruptcy often wonder how long the entire process will take. In this article, we will explore the factors that influence the duration of a bankruptcy case and provide an overview of the typical timeline.

Types of Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Chapter 7 bankruptcy, also known as liquidation bankruptcy, is the most common type of bankruptcy for individuals. It typically takes around three to six months to complete. During this period, a trustee is appointed to oversee the liquidation of non-exempt assets and the distribution of funds to creditors.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a reorganization bankruptcy primarily designed for individuals with a regular income. It involves creating a repayment plan to pay off debts over a period of three to five years. The duration of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is longer due to the extended repayment period.

Pre-Filing Requirements

Before filing for bankruptcy, certain prerequisites must be fulfilled. These requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction, but they generally include:

Credit Counseling: Individuals are required to undergo credit counseling from an approved agency within 180 days before filing for bankruptcy.

Means Test: To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, individuals must pass a means test, which compares their income to the state’s median income. This test determines if they have sufficient disposable income to repay their debts.

Filing the Bankruptcy Petition

Once all the pre-filing requirements are met, the next step is to file the bankruptcy petition with the appropriate bankruptcy court. This involves submitting various forms and documents, such as schedules of assets and liabilities, income and expenses, and a statement of financial affairs.

The time it takes to complete this step depends on the complexity of the individual’s financial situation and their ability to gather the necessary information. It typically takes a few weeks to prepare the required documents and file the petition.

Automatic Stay and Creditors’ Meeting

Upon filing the bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay goes into effect. This stay prohibits creditors from taking any further collection actions against the debtor. It provides immediate relief and allows the debtor to focus on the bankruptcy process.

Approximately 20 to 40 days after filing, a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting, is scheduled. During this meeting, the debtor, their attorney, and the bankruptcy trustee discuss the case and address any concerns or questions raised by the creditors. This meeting is usually brief and typically takes place within a single day.

Chapter 7 Discharge or Chapter 13 Plan Confirmation

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the discharge of debts is usually granted within a few months after the creditors’ meeting. The discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for most debts and provides a fresh financial start.

For Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor must propose a repayment plan to the court. The plan is subject to approval by the bankruptcy trustee and confirmation by the court. This process can take several months as negotiations with creditors and adjustments to the plan may be required.


The duration of a bankruptcy case depends on various factors, including the type of bankruptcy, the complexity of the individual’s financial situation, and the efficiency of the court system. On average, Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases are completed within three to six months, while Chapter 13 cases can take three to five years. It is essential to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to understand the specific timeline for your situation.


– United States Courts:
– American Bankruptcy Institute:
– Legal Information Institute: