CHAPTER 7 CASE TIMELINE
(expand/collapse sections to view more details)
The information provided below is not a substitute for the advice of legal counsel and should not be relied upon or cited as legal authority.
Before Filing Bankruptcy
All individuals filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 must complete an approved credit counseling course within 180 days BEFORE THEY FILE a bankruptcy case. Failure to complete an approved credit counseling course may result in dismissal of the case. A certificate of completion will be issued once you complete the course. A copy of the certificate is required to be filed with the court on the day you file your bankruptcy or up to 14 days after filing your bankruptcy case, if you have not received the certificate by the day you file your case.
To access a list of approved credit counseling agencies, visit the Court’s website here.
File Bankruptcy Petition, Certificate of Credit Counseling, and Other Required Documents with Court and Pay Filing Fees
Filing a bankruptcy petition is your official request to the court to open your bankruptcy case. You are required to file several documents to open a bankruptcy case.
The Certificate of Credit Counseling you received upon completing your Credit Counseling Course along with any debt repayment plan developed through such course must be filed with the court on Day 1 or up to 14 days after filing your bankruptcy case, if you have not received the certificate by Day 1.
For more information on the bankruptcy process, you can visit the Understanding Bankruptcy section of the Court’s website.
Employees of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court are not permitted to recommend or refer you to a lawyer or provide legal advice, including how to complete the bankruptcy forms or which forms may be required in your bankruptcy case.
You must pay the fees for filing chapter 7 bankruptcy. More information on current filing fees is available here.
If you have trouble paying the filing fee, the court may grant you permission to pay in installments. If your income is below 150% of the poverty level and you are unable to pay the fees even in installments, the court may waive the fee requirement. For more information on paying in installments and fee waivers, visit the Court’s website here.
For methods of payment, please refer to the Court’s website here.
Where to File Documents
If you are an individual, filing without an attorney, you may file your documents in person at one of the Bankruptcy Court’s manned divisional offices in Shreveport, Alexandria, and Lafayette or by mailing your documents via U.S. Mail to one of the manned divisional offices. Documents may also be filed in the drop box at the Lafayette divisional office. Addresses and contact information for each of the division office can be found on here.
Attorneys should file documents through CM/ECF. For more information, visit the Court’s website at https://www.lawb.uscourts.gov/cmecf.
Note that for individual filers a copy of your picture identification card and your Social Security card are required to file.
File Schedules, Statements, and Other Required Documents
(if not already filed with petition on Day 1)
You must file other required documents on Day 1 or within 14 days after filing your petition. If you do not do so, your case may be dismissed. For a list of required documents for individuals, refer to the Chapter 7 Filing Checklist on the Court’s website here. Copies of the forms are available on the Court’s website for free at https://www.lawb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-forms-individuals.
Copies of all payment advices (pay stubs) or other evidence of payment that you received within 60 days before you filed your bankruptcy case must be filed on Day 1 or within 14 days after filing your petition. If you do not have this information, then you must file Statement Under Penalty of Perjury Concerning Payment Advices Due Pursuant to 11 USC §521(A)(1)(B)(iv) (Local Form) (available here at the bottom of the page) on Day 1 or within 14 days after filing your petition.
(7 days BEFORE Meeting of Creditors)
Deadline to Provide Tax Returns to Trustee
You must provide your Chapter 7 Trustee with a copy of your most recent federal tax return at least 7 days before the date first set for your Meeting of Creditors. Your Chapter 7 Trustee’s address will be listed in a notice entitled, “Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case” which you will receive from the court after filing your bankruptcy petition.
(30 days AFTER Filing or BEFORE First Date Set for Meeting of Creditors, Whichever Comes First)
Deadline to File Statement of Intention (if applicable)
(If Not Already Filed with Petition)
The Statement of Intention is a declaration made by a chapter 7 debtor concerning plans for dealing with consumer debts that are secured by property of the estate.
The Statement of Intention (Official Form 108) may be filed with your bankruptcy petition package on Day 1 but must be filed within 30 days after filing your petition OR on or before the date first set for the Meeting of Creditors (whichever comes first). A copy of Official Form 108 is available here.
Meeting of Creditors
(also called 341 Meeting)
Once you file your bankruptcy petition, the court will mail you and any creditors a notice entitled, “Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case.” This notice informs your creditors of the bankruptcy case, provides information about various court deadlines, and contains the date, time, and location of the Meeting of Creditors. This meeting will take place Day 20-40. You are required to attend this meeting.
The Meeting of Creditors is not a court hearing, but rather a chance for the Chapter 7 Trustee overseeing your bankruptcy case, as well as any creditors who wish to attend, to ask you questions regarding your financial affairs and property. Although there will be no judge present during the Meeting of Creditors, you will be under oath as you answer questions regarding your financial situation.
Beginning with cases filed in September 2023, the Meeting of Creditors will be held via Zoom. More information can be found on the Court’s website here.
Deadline to Perform Statement of Intention
Within 30 days after the date first set for the Meeting of Creditors, you must perform what is outlined in your Statement of Intention (Official Form 108).
(Up to 60 Days AFTER First Date Set for Meeting of Creditors)
Deadline to Complete Financial Management Course (Debtor Education)
and File Official Form 423
Individuals who have filed for bankruptcy are required to attend a Personal Financial Management Instructional Course (Debtor Education) in addition to the credit counseling course completed before filing for bankruptcy. A certificate of completion will be issued once you complete the course. You will need the information from the certificate to complete Official Form 423. Individuals who have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 must file Official Form 423 within 60 days after the first date set for your Meeting of Creditors. You can access Official Form 423 here. The court is restricted from granting a discharge to debtors who are required, but have failed, to complete a debtor education course. Failure to do so may result in the case being closed without a discharge.
To access a list of approved debtor education providers, visit the Court’s website here.
(60 Days AFTER First Date Set for Meeting of Creditors)
Deadline to File Reaffirmation Agreements
If you wish to keep certain personal property after filing for bankruptcy, you may enter into a Reaffirmation Agreement with your creditor within 60 days after the date first set for your Meeting of Creditors. In a Reaffirmation Agreement, you agree to continue making payments on a particular debt (such as a car loan) in order to keep the property (such as a car). Reaffirmations are strictly voluntary. The Reaffirmation Agreement must be filed with the court.
However, if you are not represented by an attorney during the negotiation of a Reaffirmation Agreement, you must attend a court hearing called a Reaffirmation Hearing, where the Judge must review and approve the Reaffirmation Agreement. The Judge must decide that the agreement is in your best interest in order to approve it.
The discharge is the order from the court forgiving you from certain debts. Once your discharge is granted, your creditors can no longer attempt to collect from you for the debts that were discharged. Not all debts are dischargeable in bankruptcy. More information on the discharge is available on the Court's website here.
Discharges may be granted as early as 60 days after the date first set for the Meeting of Creditors. However, the timing of a discharge varies from case to case.
The Bankruptcy Court will close your case a minimum of 30 days after the trustee files the final report. However, the timeframe for closing cases may vary.