One of the first things people often ask is how long the bankruptcy process takes. This is a major concern. Many people have the impression that it is a very lengthy process based on the character of the legal system in general. Others base their beliefs on news reports about complex corporate bankruptcies that can last for years. The fact of the matter is, however, that typical consumer bankruptcy probably takes much less time than you expect, and even business bankruptcy for small and medium businesses can resolve fairly quickly.
Different types of bankruptcy typically take different amounts of time to complete. For consumer bankruptcy, Chapter 7 is the fastest, often being completed in as little as four months in some jurisdictions. Chapter 13 takes longer. However, this is by design, as the debtor must go through a three- to five-year repayment plan to receive a discharge of debt.
According to statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the national average duration of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in 2012 was 205 days. The average length of a Chapter 13 case was 890 days. These figures vary from district to district. Fortunately, however, most of Georgia is ahead of the curve in this area:
- In the Northern District, the average Chapter 7 case took 190 days. The average Chapter 13 case took 643 days.
- In the Middle District, the average Chapter 7 case took 197 days. However, the average Chapter 13 case took 1,106 days.
- Unfortunately, the Southern District was lagging somewhat, with the average Chapter 7 case taking 328 days and the average Chapter 13 case taking 1,192 days.
Of course, these are averages, and the actual length of a particular case depends on a host of factors. An experienced bankruptcy lawyer can help you avoid the mistakes, oversights and pitfalls that tend to slow these cases down.