How Long Does it Take to File Chapter 7 in Georgia?

How long does it take to file Chapter 7 in Georgia? If you are looking to file bankruptcy in Georgia state, there is a key timeline to file to successfully do so. The length of time it takes to file your case and obtain a discharge depends on whether you file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. Today, we will review the timeline for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in Georgia.

How Much Does it Cost to File Chapter 7 in Georgia?

In Georgia, you’ll pay $338 to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy compared to $313 for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Depending on your income, the Chapter 7 fee can be waived, but not the fee for Chapter 13.

Timeline to File Chapter 7 in Georgia

A typical Chapter 7 in Georgia takes about 4 to 6 months from filing to discharge if it involves no assets and an income that is less than the median income for your household size.

However, anyone concerned with factors that may interrupt their case should be prepared to spend at minimum four months to a full year alone with filing. Compare this to Chapter 13 in Georgia which is a filing period of 5 years; this involves creating a repayment plan. Remember, that any timeline cannot be concrete as your bankruptcy process is based on your specific financial circumstances, income, assets, creditors, and other elements.

In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, you list all of your assets and all of your debts. You claim someone as your bankruptcy trustee to investigate whether you have any property that can be sold to repay creditors. If there are no assets to sell or if all of your property is protected by the available Chapter 7 bankruptcy exemptions, then your case will likely close quickly. The typical and most simple timeline to file Chapter 7 in Georgia looks like the one below, but this process will go much smoother with a bankruptcy attorney.

  1. File your petition with the court and get a case number immediately.
  2. A bankruptcy stay or protection from all creditor collection activity is immediately issued.
  3. Clerk of Court notifies creditors via regular U.S. mail within a week.
  4. A hearing known as the Meeting of Creditors is scheduled about one month after you file Chapter 7 in Georgia.
  5. The Chapter 7 trustee issues a report stating whether there are assets that can be liquidated to repay creditors.
  6. Creditors have about 90 days from the date of the filing of your petition to file an objection to a discharge.
  7. You have 45 days after the date of your Meeting of Creditors to do a financial management course and file it with the court.
  8. The Court issues an order discharging your debt after the deadline for objections passes.

Factors That Cause Your Chapter 7 Case to Linger

Sometimes, issues such as high income, self-employment, and unprotected assets can cause a Chapter 7 case to pend for more than 6 months or even years. Some of the most common factors that can cause Chapter 7 in Georgia are listed below.

Assets: Where a Chapter 7 debtor has assets that can be sold to repay creditors, a Chapter 7 trustee will hold the case open to liquidate and administer assets. Most debtors do not have any assets that can be sold because there are protections or “exemptions” that can be applied to typically owned items such as homes, cars, retirement accounts, and bank accounts pursuant to Georgia and federal bankruptcy laws.

Income: Where a debtor earns more than the average income for his or her household size in Georgia, s/he can still qualify to file Chapter 7 in Georgia if there are available deductions to show that there is no available disposable income with which to repay creditors. For example, expenses such as out-of-pocket medical expenses, educational expenses for dependent children, childcare, taxes, or food/transportation may be deducted on that income test (which is known as the “means test”).

Many times, where a debtor makes significantly more income than average, the U.S. Trustee’s office reviews income and expenses to ensure that the debtor’s deductions are legitimate and whether the debtor’s circumstances show that s/he cannot repay debt. This review process can cause a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case to pend for quite a long time because the U.S. Trustee’s office must review documents and conduct investigations into the debtor’s case in order to make its determination.

Objections to Discharge: All parties have the right to object to a debtor’s bankruptcy discharge. When creditors file objections to discharge or “adversary proceedings,” the Chapter 7 bankruptcy case may close, but a new case is created involving litigation between the creditor who filed an objection and the creditor. The adversary proceeding is a case where the issue is whether the debt with that particular creditor should be discharged.

Liens: If a debtor has liens on property that need to be avoided, Chapter 7 could be prolonged in order to file motions to remove those liens. For example, if a debtor has been sued and garnished, it means that a creditor obtained a judgment against the debtor. Typically, creditors with judgments also file liens against the debtor’s property. Thus, under bankruptcy law, a debtor may file a motion to “avoid” the lien. Depending on when the motion is filed, it could cause the case to stay open for the resolution of the motion. There are also other types of liens, such as mortgage liens, that may be “stripped” based on the value of the house is insufficient to attach value to the lien; courts have allowed debtors to strip 2nd mortgage liens when you file Chapter 7 in Georgia.

Other Factors That Cause a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case to Linger

Chapter 7 bankruptcy concludes once the court greenlights the payments endorsed by the bankruptcy trustee. It’s crucial to note that bankruptcy filing leaves a mark on your credit report lasting anywhere from 7 to 10 years. Chapter 7 filers endure a 10-year notation on their credit reports. Following the bankruptcy filing, various meetings and decisions come into play.

Chapter 7 in Georgia Meetings

Bankruptcy Trustee Appointed: The court assigns a trustee to supervise payments to creditors, ensuring maximum distribution from the sale of non-exempt assets.

341 Meeting of Creditors: Approximately a month after filing, creditors and the trustee convene to discuss payment negotiations and debts.

Creditor Challenges: Creditors have a 60-day window to contest your bankruptcy filing. Absent any challenges, Chapter 7 filers receive notice of debt discharge within 3 to 6 months.

Expectations to File Chapter 7 in Georgia

Credit Counseling: The 2005 Bankruptcy Act mandates completing credit counseling within 6 months before filing.

Means Test: This assesses your average income to determine eligibility for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It compares your income against the median income for your state.

Documentation: Filing involves compiling extensive paperwork, including income details, financial transactions for the past 2 years, living expenses, assets, and debts.

The primary cause for a bankruptcy delay in Georgia often stems from the court suspecting that the debtor intentionally concealed pertinent information during the filing. Concealing assets could lead to the court rejecting the bankruptcy petition. As per the federal bankruptcy code, a Chapter 7 discharge may be denied by a judge due to factors such as failure to furnish requested documents, hiding property or assets, or destroying records.

File Chapter 7 in Georgia Successfully

Although most Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases in Georgia are closed and discharged within 4 to 6 months, there are some more complex cases that may pend for longer periods of time. It is advisable that any debtor with complex issues consult with a qualified Atlanta bankruptcy attorney in order to ensure a successful close and discharge.

Contact CMC Law, the law office of Charles Clapp, or call 404.585.0040 now for a free consultation.


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