12 Dec A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case’s Path Through The Court System
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a fairly quick process that generally lasts about four months after you file your case.
Your case will be filed electronically. A few minutes after the case is filed, you will be given a hearing date. This hearing is called a 341 hearing (after section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code) or a First Meeting of Creditors. Well just call it your hearing.
Your hearing will be held four to six weeks after you file your case. All of the deadlines in your case run from the hearing date. Creditors and the United State Trustee have 60 days after your hearing date to file motions to dismiss your case, object to discharge, or file non-dischargeability actions for specific debts. A non-dischargeability action is where the creditor asks the court to rule that a particular debt is non-dischargeable. Not all debts can be discharged. For example, debts incurred by fraud cannot be discharged.
Once the 60 day period runs after your hearing, neither creditors nor the United States Trustee can bring complaints or motions to disallow your discharge of your debts.
However, the United States Trustee could bring an action to revoke your discharge if he later learned that you comitted fraud during your bankruptcy. For example if the U.S. Trustee found out you lied about your assets or income, the bankruptcy court could later revoke your discharge. This could be done years after your bankruptcy case was closed, so be sure to be honest and provide your attorney with accurate information.
In the vast majority of cases, the 60-day period is just a waiting period where nothing happens. As with many things in life, no news is good news.
After the 60-day period runs, you will get a discharge from the court. The discharge order provides that all dischargeable debts are now discharged. Put simply, you dont owe them anymore. Any debts excepted from discharge, such as alimony, child support, certain taxes, student loans, or specific debts the court ruled that are non-dischargeable will not be discharged.
The actual discharge order will not be issued immediately after the end of the 60-day period. The bankruptcy court clerks office is busy dealing with thousands of other matters. Because of this you may not get your discharge until 90 days or even longer after your hearing. Dont worry; this is normal. Once you get past the 60-day period after your hearing, you can breathe easy. Your discharge will arrive shortly. Enjoy your financial fresh start!
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