How Fast Can A Bankruptcy Be Filed?

by Jay Fleischman, Esq.

March 24, 2009

People thinking about filing bankruptcy often think about doing it on their own – the reasoning is that if they could afford a pricey lawyer, they wouldn’t be in bankruptcy.

But consider this, if nothing else.  If you do it on your own (and legally there’s no reason why you can’t) you’re going to spend a ton of time getting the papers filed.  Forget the crushing burden of paperwork, forms, back-up documentation, bills, pay stubs, tax returns and the like you’ve got to get together in order to make it all happen.

No, I’m talking about the time it takes to go to the courthouse, stand on line, pay the filing fee, get the papers stamped, and tell everyone who needs to be told about the filing.

This could easily take you from 2 to 8 hours, depending on how far you live from the court.  Add in the time lost from work – and the sacrifice of your wages or precious sick/vacation/personal time, and you’ve got some real problems.  Because we all know time is money.

Now let’s look at how long it takes a bankruptcy lawyer to file a case.

Ready for this?

It takes about 10 minutes once the paperwork is drafted to get your case filed.

Magic?  Some secret line at the courthouse you don’t know about?

Nope.  It’s called CM/ECF, which stands for “case management/electronic case filing,” and it’s the way that lawyers are required to file bankruptcy cases.

The system exists solely online, and most lawyers are actually forced to file cases in this fashion.

How does it work?  Simple, actually.  All the lawyer does is press a button on his or her computer and off the petition goes, though the Internet and directly into the court.  From there, the court spits out a case filing number and it’s done.  The attorney pays the filing fee online, submits the back-up documentation (in most cases, this is done with the petition so there’s no extra step involved).

Saves time, saves money.  And your case gets filed in 10 minutes.  Poof.

So if your back is up against the wall and you need to get out of your bill problems fast, the logical choice is to hire an experienced bankruptcy lawyer rather than going it alone.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.

Last modified: March 24, 2009