Being Free: Bankruptcy Dockets and Discharges

When you have filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you always hope to not spend very long in trusteeship. When you receive a discharge, it means that essentially, your life is your own again. There are certain factors in your bankruptcy case that will govern how long it will take you to receive a discharge.

A Bankruptcy Timeline

Generally speaking, Chapter 7 cases move very quickly. They tend to be concluded in time periods between three months and a year, depending on the complexity of the case and how many creditors one might have. No-asset bankruptcies are obviously the simplest – with no assets to sell, no creditors need to file proof of claims, and no debts can be repaid from the non-existent proceeds.

However, things get more complex when you have assets, or if you are trying to reclaim possession of an item like a car or boat. In most jurisdictions, including New York, the Court will schedule a Meeting of Creditors, or “341” meeting about a month after you have filed. In a no-asset bankruptcy, no creditors will show up to that meeting – there is simply no reason to. If you have assets, a Chapter 7 meeting may still be relatively short, but a Chapter 13 meeting may get some creditors showing up to contest any perceived irregularity in your plans.

After the 341 meeting, Chapter 7 creditors have a set amount of time to contest your plan or otherwise challenge your discharge – in New York, this period is 60 days. Usually, this will only happen if they allege that you have concealed or hidden any pertinent information about your debts. After the 60 days have passed, you will be granted a discharge within a week or two of that deadline. In a Chapter 13 proceeding, you will need to attend a hearing before a judge during that time where they approve or deny your plan. Afterward, you must simply follow through on your plan in order to receive a discharge.

Be advised that regardless of how long your actual case takes to process, it is always covered by the automatic stay unless a creditor specifically petitions the Bankruptcy Court to remove it, usually in regard to a specific debt or obligation. As long as your case is open, the automatic stay is in effect.

Revocation of Discharge

It is possible to have one’s discharge revoked, though it is rare. The trustee or the Court itself can revoke a Chapter 7 discharge if it receives information that improprieties or fraud have been committed. More specifically, if the debtor refuses to answer a routine question on the basis that they would incriminate themselves, that is prima facie evidence of fraud. Section 727(a)(6) of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code is more specific. However, mere allegations of fraud may provoke a revocation; proof or lack thereof can come later. The request must also come less than one year after the close of the bankruptcy case, or the opportunity is lost.

Get An Expert On Your Side

When you are in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, one of the best things you can do is to get a bankruptcy expert on your side. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen B. Kass, P.C. have a long history of success in these matters, and we can put our talents to work for you. Contact our New York City office today for a free consultation.