Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases travel along a track, much like a train. Unless unforeseen problems get in the way, the cases generally stay pretty much on schedule.
Here is the timeline, listing main events in a typical chapter 7 case.
Prior to filing, every debtor must take this, and obtain a certificate confirming completion of the class. Agencies providing this must be approved by the U.S. Trustee’s office, which maintains a list of such agencies on the bankruptcy court websites.
Filing of Petition
The voluntary chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed under oath along with schedules A through J and required statements including a statement of financial affairs detailing the circumstances of the person filing.
This occurs 30 days more or less after date of filing. Creditors rarely actually show up, but the filer must thoroughly familiarize themselves with the petition and answer questions under oath from a trustee.
Also called ‘debtor education’ this class is mandatory. A certificate of completion must be filed within 60 days after the creditors meeting or the sought after discharge will not be issued.
Depending on the district, occurs 60-90 days after creditors meeting. This is the document terminating the legal obligation to pay most debts.
Depending on district, generally follows discharge by 10 days to 2 weeks. This ends the case. Any filings that have not been made can only be made by reopening the case and paying a filing fee.
This is a simple overview giving a general idea of the timeline in an ordinary case. Many if not most cases follow this schedule. However, this does not include the myriad of things that can and do happen. For example, debtors electing loan reaffirmation must file the reaffirmation agreement within 45 days after the creditors meeting. Creditors wishing to object to the debtor’s discharge or to challenge the dischargeability of certain debts have 60 days after the date first set for the meeting of creditors.
Bankruptcy requires total review of finances including all debts, income and assets. It is highly recommended that an experienced bankruptcy attorney in the jurisdiction be retained to guide all filers through the complexities of bankruptcy law and procedure.