What is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is often called a “liquidation.”

In a Chapter 7, you ask the court to erase debts. An active bankruptcy usually protects you from foreclosure, garnishment, and other creditor actions.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is much faster than a Chapter 13. It is an organized way to look at your belongings and debts to determine how to pay back your creditors. The downside is that you do not always get to keep valuable property. Certain property cannot be taken because it is “exempt.” Florida law governs which property your creditors cannot take during a bankruptcy. See What are the Florida Bankruptcy Exemptions?.

You must compete credit counseling during the six-month period before filing for bankruptcy. To start your bankruptcy case, you must file a packet of forms in court. This packet includes the bankruptcy petition and forms called "schedules."

There will be a meeting of creditors that you must attend. You will have to answer questions about your finances and bankruptcy forms. Then the Court makes a decision on whether you are eligible for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

After you file and before you get your discharge, you have to complete a debtor's education course. A discharge releases you from responsibility for dischargeable debts. You usually receive a discharge three to six months after filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.



A nonprofit that helps you file bankruptcy for free.


Resource for bankruptcy rules and materials.


The United States Bankruptcy Court Middle District of Florida website provides information and resources.

Still have questions?

If you live or have a case in Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas or Sarasota counties, we may be able to help.

How do I apply? Am I eligible?

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