Chapter 7 is the most commonly filed form of bankruptcy — it is a liquidation proceeding, available to individuals, married couples, partnerships and corporations. The phase “liquidation proceeding” seems frightening, however, the vast majority of cases are “no asset” cases where there are no non-exempt assets for the trustee to liquidate. In fact, in the vast majority of cases individuals discharge all of their debts and keep all of their property, including houses, cars, boats, furniture etc.. In order to keep houses and cars you must generally be current on your payments when your case is filed and you must continue to make your payments on such assets. If you cannot get current and you want to keep such property you may need to consider filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy, not chapter 7.
The whole chapter 7 process takes approximately 3 – 4 months and your credit starts improving from there. Although it will stay on your credit report for 10 years from the filing date, clients nearly universally report improved credit availability. In addition, immediately upon the filing of your case, your creditors (with certain very limited exceptions) will be prohibited by the “automatic stay” from continuing their collection activity –– stopping their attempts to collect from you by phone, letter, invoice, litigation, garnishment, etc.