Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a useful tool to help eliminate consumer debt and help you get the fresh start you deserve. New bankruptcy laws were passed in 2005, but truth be told, most people seeking to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy still qualify under the new law! The attorneys of the Chicago Bankruptcy Network are well versed in the new bankruptcy law. They will help make the filing process as simple as possible for you. Click below to fill out our free online bankruptcy evaluation and have an attorney review your case today.


 The biggest change that people who file under the new law notice is that there is more paperwork to provide your attorney before you file. Your  Chicago Bankruptcy Network attorneys will assist you in obtaining the needed paperwork.  Most common being proof of your income (save those paycheck stubs!), your tax returns and your bills. 

Your lawyer will help you get your tax returns and your credit reports, so that’s less you have to worry about. Our Network attorneys have developed lists of companies who can help you get real estate valuations, car values, title searches and more.

Benefits of Chapter 7

  • Stop harassing creditor phone calls & letters
  • Stop garnishments & wage assignments from your paycheck
  • Stop creditors from suing you
  • Stop the freeze on your bank account
  • Stop utility shut off and can re-establish service
  • Stop suspension of your license for unpaid tickets or accident claims
  • Discharge hundreds and thousands of dollars of debt
  • Discharge certain tax liability
  • Discharge your obligation for any cosigned debt
  • Discharge over-payments of unemployment & public aid compensation
  • Better payment plan and interest rate on certain car notes
  • Better payment plan for furniture, appliances, jewelry and electronics
  • Remove judicial liens on your home

Credit counseling / Financial Management

Another major change in the law now requires consumers to complete two classes in order to get your discharge. The first class, Credit Counseling will help you learn about all of your options available to you. It is important to be sure that bankruptcy is your best option. Bankruptcy is not something to take lightly, but should only be undertaken after you have exhausted all other options available to you. If you don’t need to file, you shouldn’t. Our Illinois bankruptcy lawyers will review your situation and advise you whether Chapter 7 is your best option.

You must complete the counseling program within 6 months leading up to your Chapter 7 case.  You cannot file without it, unless your attorney indicates that you fall under a narrow set of exceptions.  Not to worry!  This course is easy to complete.  There are plenty of approved agencies who offer this class.  You can take the course in person, you can do it over the phone, and many offer an internet class.  The agency will do a complete budget analysis for you and give you their recommendation if bankruptcy is a viable option for you.

The second class is Financial Management, also referred to as debtor education. Congress imposes this requirement to help you re-establish yourself after you file bankruptcy. It will help you learn from the process, and how to make the small changes to avoid falling into the same pitfalls that may have caused you to file bankruptcy in the first place.  The whole purpose of filing bankruptcy is to get a fresh start, and the debtor education class can help you set up the framework to do so!


Our Illinois lawyers view the bankruptcy process as a learning experience. We hope each and every client uses the process to get back on their feet and using their fresh start to start to rebuild their credit, and their lives. Millions of individuals like yourself have taken advantage of the relief the bankruptcy filing has given them by moving on; grasping the opportunity provided them.

Bankruptcy Process

The chapter 7 bankruptcy process takes about ninety (90) days once your case is filed. Our network of attorneys file cases every week using the Bankruptcy Court's Electronic Case Filing system. Our office will put you in touch with a sponsor attorney who will file your bankruptcy case using state of the art software and advanced computer systems. The Clerk of the US Bankruptcy Court in Illinois requires all cases to be filed electronically. Your first task after you meet with a lawyer from the Chicago Bankruptcy Network will be to gather up all of the requested information and documents. Next, you need to complete your Credit Counseling requirement.

Your bankruptcy lawyer will then prepare a draft of your bankruptcy petition for you to review. Your bankruptcy petition is a compilation of your financial situation. It lists alll of your assets and personal belongings. It summarizes your monthly income and expenses. It will list all of your debts and financial obligations. Finally, it will provide a breakdown of your financial affairs. Once you sign off on the final version of your bankruptcy petition and have paid the court filing fee, your case will be filed with the Clerk of the United States Bankruptcy Court.   Once filed, your lawyer will have an electronic record of your file, which they will provide you, and it is yours to keep.

After your case is electronically filed, the court will send notice of your filing to all of your creditors (the companies you owe money to). You will get a copy of this notice as well by mail. This notice will include your case number assigned to you. It will also list your attorney from the Chicago Bankruptcy Network as your attorney, your meeting time, and other general case information.

Automatic Stay
No creditor or collection agency can contact you regarding your debts once you file. By law, all creditors must contact your lawyer. Should any creditor contact you after your case is filed, contact your Chicago Bankruptcy Network lawyer and they will send them an “automatic stay.” An “automatic stay” is a court order preventing any creditor from contacting you while your case is pending. If a creditor violates the automatic stay after receiving notice of your bankruptcy, the court, on motion,  may award you a monetary award for damages. Contact your attorney from the Chicago Bankruptcy Network to discuss your case if this happens to you.

Your bankruptcy notice will also provide you with a list of important dates; including the date your case was filed, the date for your meeting of creditors (also called your §341 meeting), and the last date that your creditors may object to your bankruptcy discharge.

Approximately a month after we file your bankruptcy case, you will need to attend your meeting of creditors, the §341 meeting. This is not court, but basically an administrative hearing. At each meeting, you and your attorney must be present. Although your creditors have the right to attend this meeting also, but they rarely do. The US Bankruptcy Court assigns a Trustee to review your case. The Trustee is usually an attorney. The Trustee represents all of your creditors. The trustee will swear you in and ask you some questions about your bankruptcy schedules and your financial situation. You need to bring a photo ID, your social security card and your bankruptcy notice to the meeting. Your attorney may ask you to bring additional documents as well, such as paycheck stubs, real estate appraisals, or other similar information. Contact your attorney before the §341 meeting to be prepped for the meeting.

After the §341 meeting, you are in the home stretch. If you haven’t done so already, you need to complete your Financial Management/Debtor Education course and provide your certificate of completion for your attorney to file with the Bankruptcy Court. If you have financed any items, like a house, car, furniture, appliances, electronics or jewelry, your attorney will send you a reaffirmation agreement. This reaffirmation agreement is a document (usually prepared by your finance company) which states that you want to stay responsible for the debt, (let it survive bankruptcy) in order for you to keep the asset that you are buying. Reaffirmation agreements are not required in bankruptcy, so you should discuss your options available with your attorney. The lawyers from Leeders & Associates, Ltd. have reviewed thousands of reaffirmations for their clients and will advise you on them.

Finally, approximately 3 months after your case was filed, you will receive your official bankruptcy discharge notice. This is a court issued document verifying that all of your dischargeable debts have been eliminated by law. The court may keep your case open a few weeks longer to process any other administrative items, but this means your case is done and you have received a bankruptcy discharge. Congratulations. Your next step is to start the rebuilding process. Take it slow. Speak with your attorney from the Chicago Bankruptcy Network. They will help guide you on the path to rebuilding your credit. Your Chicago bankruptcy lawyer can help you avoid the pitfalls that can cause you financial difficulty down the road. They have developed a network of lenders, counselors, mortgage companies, real estate agents and brokers just to name a few to help you along your way. You are now on the right path to financial freedom!