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When will I get my Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge?

Without challenges, Chapter 7 debts can be discharged within months

How quickly the U.S. Bankruptcy Court will discharge the debts in a bankruptcy case depends largely on how quickly the case proceeds through each step of the proceedings.

Once a bankruptcy petition has been filed, all the creditors listed in the debtor's estate are notified. From that point, they have about 90 days to file a complaint if they take issue with the debtor's claim.

Often, creditors do not come forward to challenge a Chapter 7 case, the most common form of personal bankruptcy in which the debtor loses all their assets after exemptions are declared for major items such as a home or family car.

If the case proceeds without creditor complaints, and the court has not requested additional documentation to prove the case, a discharge of debts is usually issued in approximately 60 days. A Notice of Discharge is sent to all parties to let them know the case has been concluded, according to Hamilton Debt Relief in New York.

However, if there are challenges from creditors, they can be heard at the 341 meeting, a court hearing at which the debtor meets with a bankruptcy trustee as well as any creditors who have lodged a complaint.

Usually, a Chapter 7 case is concluded about four months after the individual initially filed a bankruptcy petition with the court clerk.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge takes longer because of the nature of the case. In this form of personal bankruptcy, the debtor is allowed to keep assets in return for agreeing to a court-ordered repayment plan that will take three to five years. Creditors will not receive the full amount they were owed under such a plan, so creditor complaints against the case are a possibility.

"In Chapter 13, the court generally grants the discharge as soon as the consumer fulfills all payment obligations under the plan," states the website. "A Chapter 13 plan is typically designed to be paid in three to five years, so the court grants the discharge at about four years after the date of filing."

According to TotalBankruptcy.com, debtors who want to pay off their Chapter 13 bankruptcy early are often required to pay their creditors 100 percent of what they owe them, rather than the reduced amount agreed to in the repayment plan. The court would have to approve any loan they take out for the payoff and will question any lump sum payments they've received that may make a payoff possible.

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