Bankruptcy is a process that runs through and is supported and protected by United States Federal Court system; however, many people who file don't spend much time in court.
There are 94 federal judicial districts located throughout the U.S., and consumers are required by law to file in the state where they currently reside.
Filing for bankruptcy is largely an administrative task, with documents and motions to be filed and turned in to the proper offices in a district bankruptcy court.
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Instead of a judge, most of your bankruptcy court dealings will be with a bankruptcy trustee. In most cases, a judge will only make ruling if there are questions about your eligibility to file or to discharge certain debts.
In typical Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings, you won't need to appear before a judge. For a routine Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you would only appear before a bankruptcy judge to confirm your secured debt repayment plan.
During your case, you will meet with a bankruptcy trustee at least once. The "meeting of creditors," also know as the "341 meeting," is an opportunity for creditors to ask questions about your debt.
You may meet with your bankruptcy trustee on other occasions, depending on the circumstances of your case. The trustee's offices may be located in a bankruptcy courthouse, but again, these meetings will be in a private office, and not a courtroom.
While bankruptcy court is a division of the federal court system, each state has their own bankruptcy laws. You will need to work through the court in the state you are filing bankruptcy in. Bankruptcy courts are divided into districts, and each state has multiple districts.
For information on which bankruptcy district you live in, visit one of the districts below:
In a 1934 Supreme Court decision on bankruptcy, the court wrote:
It gives to the honest but unfortunate debtor a new opportunity in life and a clear field for future effort, unhampered by the pressure and discouragement of preexisting debt.
*As quoted by US Courts' "Bankruptcy Basics" booklet.
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