The average time line for settling debt depends on four factors:
You should be skeptical of any person or company that makes general promises to settle your debt in a matter of months or less than one year. While it is certainly possible to do that if you have the ability to make large payments or your overall debt amount is not that large, the typical time period for debt settlement is two to three years.
Four years is not unusual, but just like you should avoid companies promising a quick fix you should be equally skeptical of any debt settlement program that will last longer than five years.
It takes a certain amount of time for you to gather all of your financial information in a format that your debt settlement firm or lawyer can use to analyze. Then your debt settlement advocate needs time to plan a strategy, present it to you and begin the negotiations with your creditors. Depending on the number of your creditors and their willingness to negotiate, this process can also be time consuming. The bulk of the time will then be consumed with making the payments according to the negotiated settlement plan.
Finally, you need to calculate time to tie up any loose ends, such as removing liens or judgments that may have been recorded against you. Keep in mind that no company can guarantee "100%" results, but there is help out there for debtors seeking to repay their debts and avoid bankruptcy.