It depends on why you are filing the bankruptcy. If it is just to pay back your debt over time, then there is no real deadline other than to avoid an impending wage execution, bank levy or entry of judgment in a law suit. The issue with judgments is that they can create a lien against any real estate you own (which for most people is just their home) and increase the cost of your bankruptcy because additional steps need to be taken to remove said lien after you file.
But if you are filing to save your home from foreclosure, it must be done prior to the sheriff sale. That is the point of no return or "drop dead date." Once that happens, the only way to keep the home is to pay off the mortgage balance within the 10-day redemption period under New Jersey law, following the sale. Naturally, unless you are trying to conclude a refinancing, that solution is not a very practical one.
The good news is that banks do not go directly to sheriff sale after the foreclosure suit is commenced. This offers you some time to save the home through a bankruptcy. However, I would recommend that you file as soon as possible, since every month you wait makes the arrearage that much bigger.
If you live here in southern New Jersey, are behind on your mortgage, and want to try and save your home, please feel free to call my office at 856-432-4113 or contact me through this site for a free consultation in my Woodbury office to discuss your case.
If you are looking for more information about bankruptcy, then download my free book,Top Questions People Ask About Filing Bankruptcy in New Jersey.