Bankruptcy Timeline

Timeline for Bankruptcy Chapter 13 & Followed by Chapter 7

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Pleadings, Deadlines & Orders

Preparation for filing:

Discussing a brief timeline for pleadings, this article does not deal with the preparation for filing bankruptcy, nor does it detail all of the documents that are required for bankruptcy filing.

Day One:

Bankruptcy Filed:

Chapter 13 bankruptcy typically begins with the voluntary filing of a Bankruptcy Petition, Schedule & Forms, transmitted over the Internet in electronic form (PDF) to the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy attorneys are pre-registered with the court system, known as CM/ECF and PACER and may pay by credit or debit card.

If an attorney does not represent the bankruptcy debtors (filing as pro sédebtors), the clerk of the bankruptcy court might assist the debtors in creating the necessary electronic documents for filing at the clerk’s physical office by use of a document scanner to convert the physical documents.

The clerk of the bankruptcy court assigns a unique case number, such as #12-05693, in which the first two digits represent the year of filing (2012 = “12”) and the remaining numbers include coding for the division and a serial number of the file. (Sometimes the case will have an additional three digit number at the end that, in the Eastern district of Missouri, is the number of the judge, for example, #12-05693-699, would be a case assigned to Judge Surratt-States). The bankruptcy trustee is typically assigned to the new case on the date of filing.

Chapter 13 Filing Notes:

Only persons (not corporations) can file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, by filing either individually or jointly. A husband and wife may file a joint petition in Missouri, but the husband may file without his wife, and vice versa. (Missouri does not recognize same-gender marriages: the writer of this article doubts if same-gender spouses in Missouri— as of 2012 — could file a joint petition).

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires filing a proposed Plan of repayment, on a model (standardized) form that differs in the different federal districts of the Nation. The Chapter 13 repayment plan is typically 3-5 years in duration, with monthly payments deducted directly from wages as a payroll deduction. A new standardized form is effective 11/1/2012 for the Eastern district of Missouri.

Emergency Bankruptcy Filing:

An emergency bankruptcy filing includes some, but not all, of the necessary documents. An emergency bankruptcy in a chapter 13 is typically filed shortly before a foreclosure.

It is beyond the scope of this article to give the timeline for completion of documentation in an emergency Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing.

Filing Fee Payment:

Although there are exceptions for installment payments, the filing fee is otherwise due with the initial papers filed. If represented by an attorney, the attorney will pay with a credit/debit card online. If the bankruptcy debtors are filing without an attorney (as pro sédebtors), the clerk of the bankruptcy court decides what methods of payment are acceptable: personal checks or credit cards will not be accepted.

Days: 2 – 15:

Financial Documents to Bankruptcy Trustee:

With rare exceptions, the bankruptcy trustee gets his or her copy of the original bankruptcy petition schedules and forms from a secure Internet source, CM/ECF. However, within 15 days of filing, the bankruptcy debtors must send additional documentation to the bankruptcy trustee that was not a part of the originally filed documents, specifically: a record of the debtors’ last 60 days of income and their last filed Federal & State tax returns.

The bankruptcy debtors, or their attorney, will typically submit this documentation to the bankruptcy trustee by the United States Postal Service—although, as of late 2012— some trustees accept electronic transmission of PDF copies of this information.

In most cases, bankruptcy debtors submit the pay advices (or pay stubs) from their employer as their record of the last 60 days of income & payroll deductions. Bankruptcy debtors who have received Social Security, unemployment, pension, retirement or other benefits in the previous 60 days, may be required to file an affidavit explaining why pay-advice records are unavailable. Bankruptcy debtors who have run a business in the previous 60 days, may have to prepare a profit and loss statement.

Days: 3-18

Official Notices:

Within 18 days of the bankruptcy filing, the clerk of the court sends an official form that includes information on the date of filing, the bankruptcy chapter (ex. 7 or 13) the date & time of the Meeting of Creditors, the deadline for creditors to file objections to dischargeability of debts and the deadline for filing documentary proof of claim  to be paid under the Chapter 13 plan of repayment. (The deadline for filing a proof of claim is longer for the government, such as the IRS: 180 days). A Date for the hearing on the Confirmation of the Plan (Court-approval) may appear.

The clerk of the bankruptcy court’s standard method of sending this notice is by United States Postal Service; however, some creditors – by prior arrangement – will receive the notices and information through the Internet. (Example: major credit card lenders).

Days: 24 – 40

Meeting of Creditors:

Unless excuse for medical or other valid reasons, the bankruptcy debtors are required to appear at the hearing room (not necessarily in the courthouse) to be questioned by the bankruptcy trustee, under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury. On rare occasion a creditor will actually appear and ask questions.

The bankruptcy trustee has a standard set of questions that include, for example, “Are there any mistakes or corrections you wish to make to your forms?). Typically, 15 or more cases are scheduled in a 1 ½ hour docket and the questioning of the individual bankruptcy debtors is less than five minutes.

If the correct documentation has not been timely submitted, the bankruptcy debtors can get one continuance of their Meeting of Creditors. Additional continuances are problematic.

Day: 30

First Plan Payment:

The bankruptcy debtors must make a partial or complete payment of the amount of the proposed monthly amount, received by the bankruptcy trustee within 30 days of filing, or risk having the case dismissed for failure to commence plan payments. 11 U.S.C. § 1326 (a)(1).

Day: 45 (after Meeting of Creditors)

Deadline to file Financial Management Certificate

This deadline is not actually 45 days after filing: the statute requires bankruptcy debtors to file their Financial Management Certificate 45 days after the Meeting of Creditors.

(Brinkmanship allows filing much later in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, up to a few days before the order of discharge of debts is entered).

Day: 60 (after Meeting of Creditors)

Deadlines to Object:

Exemption of Particular Debt:

This deadline is not actually 60 days after filing: In achapter 13, creditors have until–at least–60 days after the first date set for 341 meeting of creditors to object (by filing a complaint) to the discharge of the creditor’s particular debt, under 11 U.S.C. § 523. (For example, the creditor might object to discharge of the particular debt because the credit was fraudulently obtained; if successful the particular creditor’s debt would not be discharged under 11 U.S.C. § 1328(b).)

Objections to Repayment Plan:

The bankruptcy trustee or a creditor may object to confirmation of the plan for various reasons. The bankruptcy trustee often objects because the plan is not mathematically feasible. Creditors will object if, for example, the amount of plan payments they are to receive is inadequate, because the creditor’s claim is actually larger, or object for other reasons.

Day: 90 (after Meeting of Creditors)

Confirmation Hearing:

The first date for the court to consider confirming the plan of repayment is about 90 days after filing.  If the bankruptcy debtors are represented by an attorney, the attorney can typically handle this hearing without the bankruptcy debtors appearing at court.

The bankruptcy trustee will either file objections or a recommendation that the plan be confirmed (more likely, an objection).  The court will also consider objections by creditors; all objections must be dealt with before the Chapter 13 repayment plan can be confirmed.

Days: 1095 – 1826 (3-5 Years)

Order of Discharge of Debts:

Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge typically occurs 3-5 years after filing the bankruptcy case (by statute, the case cannot run more than 60 months, although some cases actually run a bit longer, typically for completion of payments).

In uncommon circumstances, a chapter 13 case might be discharged early because, for example, all required-payment claims & all unsecured, non-priority claims have been paid in full prior to the nominal completion date. Hardship discharges are also available under the Bankruptcy Code.

Timeline for Bankruptcy Chapter 7
Pleadings, Deadlines & Orders

Preparation for filing:

This article does not deal with the preparation for filing bankruptcy, nor does it lists the type of documents that are required for bankruptcy filing.

Day One:

Bankruptcy Filed:

Although bankruptcy can be started by involuntary means, most consumer bankruptcies begin with the voluntary filing of a Bankruptcy Petition, Schedule & Forms, transmitted over the Internet in electronic form (PDF) to the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy attorneys are pre-registered with the court system, known as CM/ECF and PACER and may pay by credit or debit card.

If an attorney does not represent the bankruptcy debtors (filing as pro sédebtors), the clerk of the bankruptcy court might assist the debtors in creating the necessary electronic documents for filing at the clerk’s physical office by use of a document scanner to convert the physical documents.

The clerk of the bankruptcy court assigns a unique case number, such as #12-05693, in which the first two digits represent the year of filing (2012 = “12”) and the remaining numbers include coding for the division and a serial number of the file. (Sometimes the case will have an additional three digit number at the end that, in the Eastern district of Missouri, is the number of the judge, for example, #12-05693-699, would be a case assigned to Judge Surratt-States). The bankruptcy trustee is typically assigned to the new case on the date of filing.

Emergency Bankruptcy Filing:

An emergency bankruptcy filing includes some, but not all, of the necessary documents. It is beyond the scope of this article to give the timeline for completion of documentation in an emergency filing.

Filing Fee Payment:

Although there are exceptions for installment payments and filing in forma pauperis (as a poor person, who pays no fees), the filing fee is otherwise due with the initial papers filed. If represented by an attorney, the attorney will pay with a credit/debit card online. If the bankruptcy debtors are filing without an attorney, the clerk of the bankruptcy court decides what methods of payment are acceptable: personal checks or credit cards will not be accepted.

Days: 2 – 15:

Financial Documents to Bankruptcy Trustee:

With rare exceptions, the bankruptcy trustee gets his or her copy of the original bankruptcy petition schedules and forms from a secure Internet source. However, within 15 days of filing, the bankruptcy debtors must send additional documentation to the bankruptcy trustee that was not a part of the originally filed documents, specifically: a record of the debtors’ last 60 days of income and their last filed Federal & State tax returns.

The bankruptcy debtors, or their attorney, will typically submit this documentation to the bankruptcy trustee by the United States Postal Service—although, as of late 2012— some trustees accept electronic transmission of PDF copies of this information.

In most cases, bankruptcy debtors submit the pay advices (or pay stubs) from their employer as their record of the last 60 days of income & payroll deductions. Bankruptcy debtors who have received Social Security, unemployment, pension, retirement or other benefits in the previous 60 days, may be required to file an affidavit explaining why pay-advice records are unavailable. Bankruptcy debtors who have run a business in the previous 60 days, may have to prepare a profit and loss statement.

Days: 3-18

Official Notices:

Within 18 days of the bankruptcy filing, the clerk of the court sends an official form that includes information on the date of filing, the bankruptcy chapter (ex. 7 or 13) the date & time of the Meeting of Creditors, the deadline for creditors to file objections to dischargeability of debts and the deadline for filing documentary proof of claims (for Chapter 13 cases).

The clerk of the bankruptcy court’s standard method of sending this notice is by United States Postal Service; however, some creditors – by prior arrangement – will receive the notices and information through the Internet. (Example: major credit card lenders).

Days: 24 – 40

Meeting of Creditors:

Unless excuse for medical or other valid reasons, The bankruptcy debtors are required to appear at the hearing room (not necessarily in the courthouse) to be questioned by the bankruptcy trustee, under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury. On rare occasion a creditor will actually appear and ask questions. The bankruptcy trustee has a standard set of questions which include, for example, “Are there any mistakes or corrections you wish to make to your forms?). Typically, 15 or more cases are scheduled in a 1 ½ hour docket and the questioning of the individual bankruptcy debtors is less than five minutes.

If the correct documentation has not been timely submitted, the bankruptcy debtors can get one continuance of their Meeting of Creditors. Additional continuances are problematic.

Day: 45 (after Meeting of Creditors)

Deadline to file Financial Management Certificate

This deadline is not actually 45 days after filing: the statute requires bankruptcy debtors to file their Financial Management Certificate 45 days after the Meeting of Creditors.

(Brinkmanship allows filing a few days later, until just before the 60-day deadline noted below).

Day: 60 (after Meeting of Creditors)

Deadlines to Object:

This deadline is not actually 60 days after filing: In achapter 7, the persons or entities noted below have until 60 days after the first date set for 341 meeting of creditors to object, as follows:

  1. For a creditor: to object (by filing a complaint) to the discharge of the creditor’s particular debt, under 11 U.S.C. § 523. (For example, the creditor might object to discharge of the particular debt because the credit was fraudulently obtained).
  2. For a creditor: to object to the discharge of the bankruptcy debtors under 11 U.S.C. § 727. (This is an objection to any discharge order being entered, not just as to a particular creditor; this objection is sometimes paired with objection to discharge of a particular debt).
  3. For the United States Trustee: to object to discharge on the basis of “substantial abuse” of the chapter 7 form of bankruptcy. (For example, the United States Trustee asserts that the bankruptcy debtors, under the means test, have too much income and should be filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy).

Days: 90 – 100

Order of Discharge of Debts:

In a typical chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the order of discharge of debts will occur approximately 90-100 days after filing. The case is administratively closed in the bankruptcy is over.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertising.