How long does it take to file for bankruptcy?

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Filing for bankruptcy is a legal process that allows individuals or businesses to seek relief from overwhelming debt. It is a complex procedure that involves several steps and can take varying amounts of time depending on the circumstances. In this article, we will explore the factors that determine how long it takes to file for bankruptcy and provide a comprehensive overview of the process.

Types of Bankruptcy

Before delving into the timeline, it is essential to understand the different types of bankruptcy. The most common types for individuals are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves the liquidation of assets to repay creditors, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows individuals to reorganize their debts and create a repayment plan.

Pre-Filing Requirements

Credit Counseling: Before filing for bankruptcy, individuals must undergo credit counseling from an approved agency. This requirement aims to ensure that individuals explore all possible alternatives to bankruptcy and understand the implications of filing.

Gathering Financial Information: To file for bankruptcy, individuals must provide detailed financial information, including income, expenses, assets, and debts. Gathering these documents can take time, especially if individuals have complex financial situations.

Filing the Bankruptcy Petition

Once all the necessary information is gathered, the next step is to file the bankruptcy petition. This involves submitting the required forms to the bankruptcy court. The timeline for this step can vary depending on the individual’s preparedness and the complexity of their case.

Automatic Stay

Upon filing the bankruptcy petition, an automatic stay goes into effect. This stay prevents creditors from taking any further collection actions against the debtor. The automatic stay provides immediate relief and allows individuals to focus on the bankruptcy process without the constant pressure of collection efforts.

Meeting of Creditors

After filing the bankruptcy petition, a meeting of creditors, also known as a 341 meeting, is scheduled. During this meeting, the debtor, their attorney, and the bankruptcy trustee meet with the creditors to review the case. The timeline for this meeting can vary, but it typically occurs within 30 to 45 days after filing.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Timeline

In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process generally moves more quickly compared to Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Once the meeting of creditors is completed, the trustee will review the debtor’s assets and determine if any non-exempt property can be liquidated to repay creditors. The debtor’s discharge, which eliminates eligible debts, is usually granted within a few months of filing.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Timeline

Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves the creation of a repayment plan that spans three to five years. The timeline for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is longer due to the duration of the repayment plan. After filing, the debtor must propose a plan to repay their debts. The court will review the plan, and if approved, the debtor will begin making payments to the bankruptcy trustee. Once the repayment plan is successfully completed, the debtor receives a discharge.


The timeline for filing bankruptcy can vary depending on the type of bankruptcy, individual circumstances, and the efficiency of the debtor and their legal representation. Pre-filing requirements, gathering financial information, filing the bankruptcy petition, and attending the meeting of creditors are key steps in the process. Chapter 7 bankruptcy typically moves faster than Chapter 13 bankruptcy due to the absence of a repayment plan. It is crucial to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to navigate the process effectively and ensure a successful outcome.


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– Internal Revenue Service:
– American Bankruptcy Institute: