There are two ways that I usually file bankruptcy cases. The first method usually takes one to two weeks. I meet with my client initially during which I explain the bankruptcy process and determine whether it is in their best interest. If they decide to retain me to represent them in their case I give them a workbook to fill out and a list of documents that I will need in order to prepare their petition. Some people return their workbook to me the next morning with all of the documents I need to file their case. The bankruptcy petition is usually completed three to five days after the workbook is given to me at which time I call my client to schedule an appointment to review and sign the documents. After this second meeting I file the bankruptcy case. How long it takes to complete this process depends on how quickly my client returns their workbook to me and whether it contains all of the documents I requested. This is my preferred method for filing bankruptcy cases.
Sometimes it is necessary to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case very quickly. Usually this is because we are trying to get a case filed to stop a foreclosure, repossession or a wage garnishment from taking place. Emergency filings are a necessary evil. They have to be filed to stop certain bad things from happening but cases filed in this way don’t always progress as smoothly as they do under the first method. Emergency Chapter 13 cases require that the debtor’s attorney file five documents. The first is the petition. The petition spells out who is filing bankruptcy, what chapter the case is being filed under, whether there have been any other cases filed during the prior eight years, and some other information that is more technical by nature. The second document is the creditor matrix. The matrix is basically a list of creditors to be listed in the bankruptcy case. The third document is a certificate of completion of a credit counseling course. Consumer bankruptcy debtors must complete this course and receive a certificate before the case is filed. The fourth document is a document that verifies the social security number of the debtor. The debtor must also file a declaration page that states that the information contained in these documents is accurate.
After these documents are filed, the debtor has fourteen days to file the remaining bankruptcy documents. If these documents aren’t filed by the fourteenth day the court may dismiss the case. In North Texas, bankruptcy courts will usually extend this deadline fourteen additional days upon request. The problem with emergency filings is that sometimes it is difficult to get the remaining documents filed before the deadline. If the debtor doesn’t have all the information in their possession they may need to order some of the documents which may delay filing. When all of the information is not available an incomplete schedule or statement can be filed in order to meet the filing deadline but then an amended document must be filed once the documents become available. Emergency filings are a little messier than other ways of filing bankruptcy but in the end the case usually proceeds without dismissal.