How Long Does a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Last and How Does it Work?

Bankruptcy Lawyer

This is a common question. If you have to file Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you want the process completed quickly. The short answer is that from the filing of the case to discharge (completion and elimination of debts) is approximately 4 months. We will make it as easy as possible for you.

Here are the steps in the timeline that it takes to get there.

  1. Gather documents to bring to a consultation with a lawyer. You will need to find (or file) your Income Tax Returns from the last 4 years. This means- full copies of each page of the return. Not just the W-2 from your job or the first 2 pages.  The whole tax return. We can order tax transcripts (official copies) from the IRS, but it takes 2 to 4 weeks to get those. You also need to get us your last 6 months of pay stubs from any job you have had (or proof of income if you don’t get paychecks). And, get your bills together – one of each- Mortgage, car, credit cards, and any utilities you are behind on, along with any collection letters or lawsuit papers. If you do not have the bills, you can get a free credit report at to bring in. Get what you can find for now. If you don’t have everything for the first meeting, that’s OK, but you will have to get the rest later.
  2. Call us to set up a consultation. We have flexible hours, but need to schedule an appointment that fits both of our schedules. It may be at a time during the day, or after work, but if you want to get a convenient time, you need to call at least a week in advance.  Our consultations are generally free for consumer cases.  And, we will tell you if there are any other documents we need.
  3. Go to your consultation. This may seem obvious, but it is hard to find good times, especially evening appointments, so make this a priority, and plan for it. If you miss an appointment, you may miss your chance for a good appointment time, and a chance to start fixing your problems, and stopping a lawsuit.  Too many times, people miss appointments, and they lose their chance to stop a wage garnishment or foreclosure.
  4. Follow up and get the rest of the documents after the appointment to us and make your payments. This is crucial. We cannot start preparing your case until you follow through and get whatever else is needed.
  5. Complete the first of 2 counseling courses. This is an online course that takes about an hour.  We will give you instructions and a code to pay for it though our office.  And after you go through the online course, you’ll be making a call or chat to finish the course and get the certificate.
  6. Come in and review your Bankruptcy Petition to be sure it is correct, and sign it. If there are any changes, we’ll take care of it then.  Your protection cannot start until after you sign your documents to authorize us to file a Bankruptcy Case for you.
  7. We will then file your case electronically. You are now protected from all bill collectors.
  8. Watch for instructions on how to do the 2nd counseling course and when and where to go to the required Meeting of Creditors.  (Mail or email)
  9. Do the 2nd counseling course—this is a 2 hour online course. THIS IS REQUIRED.
  10. Go to the Mandatory Meeting of Creditors. Be sure to bring your State ID or Drivers’ License, AND Proof of Social Security Number.  BE SURE YOU DO THIS, AND IT YOU WILL NEED TO ASK OFF FROM WORK TO DO THIS. IF YOU DON’T GO, YOU WON’T GET A DISCHARGE IN YOUR CASE.
  11. If the Trustee requests additional documents, you MUST get them to your attorney right away. It is your responsibility to do what the trustee requires or you won’t get a discharge either.
  12. If you do the first 11 things, you’ll get your Discharge Order approximately 3 months later.
  13. Thank your attorney! You are now discharged of your unsecured debts!

All of this takes 3-4 months from the date we file your case.  If you take longer to get us the documents, it will take longer.  So this is a partnership.  You do your jobs, and we can do ours, to get you a Discharge Order.

Start with Step 1.  Gather as many of the documents as you can find, and then go to Step 2-Call with questions, and we can set you up for a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney.