The bankruptcy process can take anywhere from a few months to 5 years or more to be completed depending on whether it’s a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. While there are a number of factors that may delay your case, the required bankruptcy courses shouldn’t be one of them. Prior to filing for bankruptcy protection, completion of a 90-minute Credit Counseling Course is required within 180 days. Then after filing, but before discharge a Debtor Education Course must be completed. Once you have completed each course, certificates are to be provided to your attorney from an approved agency to avoid having your case delayed or dismissed.
To put things in perspective, we’ll give you a timeline of a typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Once the case is filed, it can take a few days to receive notice of when a meeting of creditors will take place, which is usually scheduled about 2 to 3 weeks away. Once the meeting of creditors takes place and assuming there are no issues that may arise, it will take about 60 days before you receive your bankruptcy discharge off all of your dischargeable debts. However, it is important to note that a Chapter 13 bankruptcy can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to complete since it involves making monthly payments over time to creditors.
So, other than completing the required bankruptcy courses in a timely matter, what issues can arise and delay your bankruptcy case? Here’s a list of other possibilities that you can try to avoid:
Be Prepared Before Filing
During your initial meeting with your bankruptcy attorney they should inform you of all of the necessary documentation required to complete the bankruptcy papers and file your case—this could take some time. The attorney should also provide you with a written fee agreement that will detail what you will pay and what services will be covered. The average cost to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can average approximately $1,500 so if this money cannot be paid up front, this will delay filing the case since attorney fees must be paid before a case is filed.
The timing of when a case is filed can affect your assets. Prior to filing a case, your attorney should discuss with you how to legally protect your assets. This can delay your case considerably depending on your individual situation.
Not the First Bankruptcy Filing
If this is not the first time you’ve filed for bankruptcy, it is important to note that once you’ve filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and have received a discharge or elimination of debt, you cannot file again for 8 years. If you haven’t hit the 8 year mark yet, then this will delay the filing of a second bankruptcy case.
Income is Too High
If you’ve been working overtime to help make ends meet, this may hurt your case. If your income is showing as too high (even if it’s only temporary) this can make you ineligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If your overtime hours are indeed only temporary, your attorney will have to show proof of this to the court, which can also cause a delay.
Depending on your individual circumstances, the factors affecting the timeliness of your bankruptcy case can vary. It is important that you consult with your bankruptcy attorney regularly about the status of your case to ensure that the delay is not a result of a lack of communication. Although completing the required bankruptcy courses is solely your responsibility, Start Fresh Today makes it easy for you to fulfill your requirements with courses available online or by phone, in English or Spanish, and they are available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
*This article is not intended to serve as legal advice. Contact a qualified, local bankruptcy attorney for assistance with a bankruptcy case.