Qualifications for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
Prior to filing, you must be eligible by ensuring you have not filed for bankruptcy in the previous 180 days and by taking the means test, which evaluates your median household income compared with the state's median household income. If your income level is higher than the state's, you may still be able to file for Chapter 7 but can also move on to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. If Chapter 7 is in your best interests and you prove eligible, our firm can help you file your petition.
How Long Will My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Take?
For those who are struggling with debt and are constantly being bombarded with creditor collection efforts and communications, it is not uncommon for a person to desire relief as quickly as possible. Fortunately, as far as legal procedures go, Chapter 7 is a relatively quick process.
On average, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take between four and six months from the time you file to the time you receive your discharge. There are certain circumstances, however, that may increase the time it takes to complete your bankruptcy.
Common situations that could extend your Chapter 7 bankruptcy include:
- The trustee must sell your property: Your bankruptcy may remain open for a longer period of time if your trustee is required to sell your property, particularly real estate.
- Your trustee requires more information: If your trustee requests that you supply them with additional documents not included in your initial filing, you could experience a delay until you provide the necessary items. The trustee may keep your 341 meeting of creditors open and postpone it until a later date.
- A creditor has more questions: Since there are usually multiple bankruptcy filers at a meeting of creditors, a bankruptcy trustee will usually designate roughly 10 minutes of time to each filer. This may not be enough time for a creditor to ask the appropriate questions. If a creditor is not satisfied with their examination, or if multiple creditors wish to question you, your trustee may schedule an additional hearing. This typically happens in more complicated bankruptcy cases, especially ones that involve possible allegations of fraud.
- A motion or complaint needs to be resolved: If litigation is involved, your case will often be open until any lawsuits are settled or decided by a judge. Complex lawsuits such as those regarding the nondischargeability of a debt or objections to your discharge can add at least six months to the duration of your case.
- You wish to discharge student debt: If you are hoping to eliminate your student loans, you must file a complaint with the court alleging that repaying the debt would cause undue hardship and either reach a settlement with the lender or proceed to trial. Student loan discharge cases can take more than a year to be settled.