Bankruptcy is a multi-step legal process that plays out over a period of months or years, depending on the type of bankruptcy. A series of administrative filings need to happen in a predetermined order for the successful completion and discharge in a typical consumer bankruptcy case. In that sense, it’s more like a divorce than contesting a speeding ticket. Most people never see the judge.
If you have “filed for bankruptcy” this means you have petitioned the court seeking bankruptcy relief. You have chosen the appropriate relief chapter based on your situation and have already completed the required credit counseling.
The timeline of your entire case will depend, in part, on the chapter you filed. In most states, Chapter 7 cases take about 90 days. Chapter 13 cases, which entail a repayment plan, take 3-5 years. Nevertheless, for all cases there are some procedural items that need to happen shortly after filing.
At the time of filing…
Upon the exact moment of filing, but for exceptional circumstances of repeated filings, you are instantaneously under the federal court’s protection. The court issues an “automatic stay” that stops collection efforts from creditors, ends wage garnishments, and halts repossessions, evictions, and foreclosures. When you file the bankruptcy petition, the court assigns you a case number and appoints a bankruptcy trustee.
Immediately after filing…
Within fifteen days, the individual needs to provide the trustee with documentation on their assets, income, expenses, and liabilities. The trustee may ask for additional items. In Chapter 13 cases, the debtor must file the proposed plan within 15 days from the petition’s filing.
Within 30 days of filing…
Individuals filing for Chapter 13 protection have 30 days to make their first payment on their repayment plan. Failure to miss the first payment can lead to dismissal. After the Chapter 13 plan is confirmed or approved by the Court, the Trustee is usually more flexible about a missed payment.
Individuals filing Chapter 7 liquidation cases have until 30 days to “reaffirm” the debt for items they wish to keep. Reaffirm a car loan to keep the car, reaffirm the mortgage to keep the house. When a debt is reaffirmed, you and the lender enter into a new contract and submit it to the court. Some courts require an additional reaffirmation hearing.
At or around 28 to 35 days after filing…
You are required to attend the court-scheduled, Initial Meeting of Creditors, also known as the 341 Meeting. Your creditors are invited to attend, but few (if any) will. The meeting is short and not in a courtroom. During the meeting, you will testify under oath about the veracity of everything stated or presented up to this point; usually it’s just a handful of questions posed by the trustee.
By this point, you should have completed a second course (usually online) to be eligible for your Chapter 7 discharge. Chapter 13 cases will not be eligible for discharge until the successful completion of their repayment plan. Failure to keep up with payments or meet deadlines are grounds for a dismissal.
Proceed confidently with professional assistance.
Nobody comes to the decision to file for bankruptcy lightly. It’s probably a decision you never wanted to face, but it can also be the lifeline that makes you whole. With so much riding on your case, you deserve the peace of mind that professionals bring to the table.
The team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman are ready to put their experience and expertise to work for you. Let us help you work through the bankruptcy process with confidence and self-assurance. Call us today.
The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lohman, P.C. is considered a debt relief agency pursuant to federal law. We are attorneys who help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.