When you are unable to keep up with debt payments, it can feel like you’re in an impossible situation with no end in sight. You may be starting to consider whether filing for bankruptcy is the right choice. One of the first things people often wonder when considering bankruptcy is how long the process will take. Each situation is unique, and depending on the types and amounts of debts you owe, there are different options for filing, each of which has a different timeline. In Texas, the two most common bankruptcy filings for individuals are Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Before learning about the timeline of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 filings, you should understand the difference between the two. You may or may not qualify for one or both types, and each resolves debt in a different way. Some of the main differences between the two include:
Once you have determined which type of filling is best for your situation, you will start to gather financial documentation to include in your filing. Depending on how organized you are, this step could take days or weeks. Required documents for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 include:
You may also be required to supply:
Once the necessary financial and personal documents have been gathered, you can prepare a bankruptcy petition which provides the court with a complete and accurate view of your financial situation. The petition includes an inventory of your household property and its value, credit reports, billing statements, and proof of a completed credit counseling course. Preparing the petition is the step when many people consider the assistance of an attorney experienced in bankruptcy law to ensure accurate completion and avoid delays.
The process continues to be similar for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy after the petition is filed. At this point, you will be required to attend a meeting of creditors, which is a short hearing where your personal and financial information is verified. Those to whom you owe debts are also entitled to attend this meeting, but most don’t. When the filer is well-prepared and there are few creditors in attendance, this meeting can be as fast as 10 minutes. If there are complications or a trustee requires more information, you may need to attend another hearing.
After the meeting of creditors is where the timeline begins to differ between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a quicker process that can usually be completed within six months of filing. If the meeting goes smoothly, your documents were submitted accurately, and there are no objections, you are eligible for your debts to be discharged at that time. This means you are no longer required to pay the debt and can begin your financial fresh start.
As we’ve discussed, the process of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be as fast as six months. If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you might be dealing with the bankruptcy process for a longer period. Your debts are not discharged until after you have fulfilled monthly payments on your confirmed repayment plan. Repayment plans last between three to five years, meaning your debts can be discharged three to five years after filing if you stick to your agreed-upon monthly payment plan.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of opportunities for delays once you file for bankruptcy. Due to the large amount of paperwork involved, there are many opportunities for error. Some situations that could lead to a delay in the process include:
Many of these possible delays can be avoided when you are filing with the help of an experienced bankruptcy attorney. An inexperienced attorney, or one who lacks attention to detail, can also be the cause of some delays, which is why it is crucial to research the lawyer you decide to work with to ensure they are experienced in bankruptcy law.
If you’re not having success repaying debts in a timely manner and are sick of constant contact from creditors, filing for bankruptcy may allow you to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Discussing your case with the experienced attorneys at Steele Law Firm PLLC, who specialize in Texas bankruptcy law, is a great first step. We can help you understand your options, as well as guide you through the process from start to finish if you decide filing for bankruptcy is the best choice for your situation. Contact us today to learn which option is best for you.