There is a very specific process that has to be followed when filing for bankruptcy. Before you can file, you must take a means test to determine if you actually qualify for bankruptcy protection, and which form, Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You will then file your bankruptcy petition and other required documents with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
Once your petition is filed, an automatic stay is issued by the court that instantly halts all creditor activity against you, including any collection actions. Your creditors will be legally stopped from contacting you in any way while the bankruptcy process unfolds.
Once your paperwork is filed, a bankruptcy trustee will arrange a creditor meeting or 341 hearing. The hearing is not in front of a judge and it is not in a courtroom. The hearing is with another attorney called a Trustee. I will attend the hearing with you.
Creditors in reality rarely attend the meeting and that part of the process is out of the way quickly. You are required to attend this meeting, and I will be at the meeting with you and help you with all aspects of the meeting. Before your bankruptcy case is complete, you will be required to attend a financial management course.
Under Chapter 7, your debts will be discharged after about 4 months. Under Chapter 13, your debts will be discharged after you complete your Chapter 13 debt repayment plan. Your plan will usually run 3-5 years.
Once you receive your discharge, you will be free from most of your debts. Remember that certain debts may be non-dischargeable and will not go away if you file Chapter 13 or 7.