Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

When you need to file for Chapter 7 or 13 fast, use the “emergency bankruptcy filing” or “skeleton bankruptcy filing” procedure.

When facing an emergency like a wage garnishment or home foreclosure, quickly getting the "automatic stay" in place is critical. It's the order that stops creditor actions and gives you room to breath. Using the streamlined "emergency" or "skeleton" bankruptcy procedure will help you get on track fast. Learn what you need to know about emergency filings, including:

  • how to get started
  • the forms you'll prepare, and
  • the deadline for completing your filing.

Also, take a moment to learn how bankruptcy works and what you should know about bankruptcy. And don't forget our quick ten-question bankruptcy quiz–it can help you spot potential bankruptcy issues fast.

Filing a Chapter 7 Emergency or Skeleton Bankruptcy Filing

Filing a complete bankruptcy petition is a time-consuming endeavor. Here's how to proceed with a Chapter 7 emergency filing when you don't have time to waste.

Before Filing a Chapter 7 Emergency Bankruptcy Petition

It's essential to know a Chapter 7 filing will solve your financial problems and not create more because filers don't have an automatic right to dismiss a Chapter 7 case. Start by checking your ability to do the following things:

Emergency or "Skeleton" Forms Filed in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You won't have to file a full bankruptcy petition to get started. Here are the forms you'll need to file a Chapter 7 (or Chapter 13) emergency bankruptcy:

  1. Voluntary petition. The bankruptcy petition is the cover sheet of your bankruptcy filing, and on it you'll disclose all past personal and business names, your address, the chapter you intend to file, whether you've filed before, and more.
  2. Creditor matrix. This is a list of all creditors and others you must notify about your bankruptcy. Your bankruptcy court's local rules will explain the required matrix format.
  3. Social Security number. You'll also provide your Social Security number.
  4. Credit counseling certificate. You must take a court-approved credit counseling class online or by telephone unless you have a disability that prevents you from taking it or you're in an active combat zone. You'll need to complete the class less than 180 days before filing.

You must complete and file the remaining bankruptcy forms within 15 days. You'll also pay a $338 filing fee ($313 for Chapter 13) along with the skeleton petition unless you include a fee waiver application (check your court's requirements).

If you need more time, request a new deadline from the court. If you don't file the remaining forms, the court will dismiss your matter. You'll find links to fillable, downloadable bankruptcy forms at the end of the article.


Chapter 13 Emergency Bankruptcy Filing

Filing for Chapter 13 is even more labor-intensive than Chapter 7. The emergency Chapter 13 filing shortcut comes in handy when you've got to move fast.

Before Filing a Chapter 13 Emergency Bankruptcy Petition

Find out whether Chapter 13 will work for you by checking your ability to do the following things:

Forms Filed in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

You'll file the same emergency bankruptcy forms used in Chapter 7, but the filing fee will be $313. The remaining Chapter 13 bankruptcy forms will also be due within 15 days. Be sure to make the first plan payment within 30 days of your initial emergency bankruptcy filing, even though the court won't have approved your plan by that time.

Navigating Your Bankruptcy Case

Bankruptcy is an unusual area of law because it's essentially a qualification process. The laws provide instructions for completing a 50- to 60-page bankruptcy petition, and because all rules apply in every case, you can't skip a step.

The forms and resources below will help you find more information. Also, you can use this list of Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy forms to see where this topic falls. And this handy bankruptcy document checklist will help you gather the things you'll need to complete the petition.

More Bankruptcy Information

Bankruptcy Forms

Voluntary Petition for Individuals Filing for Bankruptcy

Your Statement About Your Social Security Numbers

Related Information

What You Should Know About Filing for Bankruptcy

How Much Debt Do You Need to File for Bankruptcy?

Will I Lose All My Property If I File for Bankruptcy?

How Long Before Filing for Bankruptcy Are You Supposed to Stop Using Credit Cards?

The 341 Meeting of Creditors Explained

Need More Info?

We want to help you find the answers you need. Go to TheBankruptcySite for more easy-to-understand bankruptcy articles, or consider buying a self-help book like The New Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O'Neill.

We wholeheartedly encourage research and learning, but online articles can't address all bankruptcy issues or the facts of your case. The best way to protect your assets in bankruptcy is by consulting with a local bankruptcy lawyer.

Updated January 10, 2022

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