The objective of the typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing is to eliminate all or some of the debtor's unsecured debts through a discharge. A discharge is a court order stating that you do not have to pay substantially all of your scheduled unsecured debts. No creditor can require you to pay a debt that has been discharged. In Chapter 7, however, some debts cannot be eliminated. For example, you cannot discharge debts for:
- Some taxes;
- Child support and spousal maintenance obligations;
- Student loans;
- Court fines and criminal restitution; and
- Personal injury judgments arising from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The typical chapter 7 bankruptcy process - often called a "liquidation" - generally should take 4 months from the date your petition is filed:
- 30 days until the Section 341 Meeting of Creditors occurs;
- 60 days thereafter for a discharge if there are no objections; and
- case closure approximately a month later (although the Court sometimes delays in closing the case).
Your only contact with the Bankruptcy Court will be during the 341 Meeting, where only you, the trustee and your attorney participate. (A bankruptcy judge never attends 341 Meetings.) The trustee's job is to gather or marshal any non-exempt assets you have and to convert them to cash for the benefit of your creditors. Most chapter 7 cases
are what is called "no-asset cases," because the debtor's assets are exempt and not included in the bankruptcy estate. This is not always the case, though, so contact your Agins Law Firm bankruptcy attorney about the exempt status of your assets.
Filing a bankruptcy petition requires thoroughly documenting your assets and liabilities. Your Agins Law Firm
bankruptcy attorney will furnish you with checklists to help you provide us with the required information. We
understand that this is a daunting prospect for many clients, so we welcome your calls at any time for help with the document-gathering process. We also will provide you with written information to explain the bankruptcy process and what to expect at each step along the way.