Handling Your Case in Court

Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. This means Bankruptcy courts are the only venue in which bankruptcy cases may be heard in the United States.  The proceedings in a bankruptcy courts are governed by the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

According to federal statute, the bankruptcy case should be filed in the federal district in which you were domiciled, had a principal place of business, or principal assets in the United States, within the 180 days prior to filing.

The bankruptcy process gets rolling on filing of the bankruptcy petition. As soon as the petition is filed with the Clerk of the Bankruptcy Court, the bankruptcy stay becomes effective.  If the filing is done electronically, the time of filing is basically the time you press the final send button on your computer.  On the other hand, if you file in person at the bankruptcy court, it is the time that the clerk clocks in your petition with the clerk’s time and date stamping machine.

It is not necessary for all of the supporting schedules to be filed at the time the case is initially filed. The case can be commenced by filing just the two-page bankruptcy petition together with a list of creditors and their addresses along with the filing fees.  The rest of the documents need be filed later within the permitted time. However, whenever possible, it is advisable to file the entire petition and all supporting schedules at the commencement of the case.

Occasionally, the bankruptcy court trustee will request additional information which you are obliged to provide promptly.  Apart from this, at a hearing the court appointed trustee will ask you questions to verify your eligibility for Chapter 7 relief and to determine if you have fully disclosed all of your assets and liabilities. The hearing usually only lasts about five minutes and is informal.  You will be required to bring a state issued photo I.D., your social security card and other additional items requested. Failure to appear at even one hearing, technically, is grounds for dismissal of your case.

The discharge order is the official court order relieving you of your obligation to pay your bills. Sometimes, prior to discharge, it might be necessary to reaffirm certain secured items, like your house, car or household goods. Not every lender requires a reaffirmation agreement, but it is very important to review all correspondence immediately, as once your case is completed you may lose your rights to reaffirm certain debts.


Inside Handling Your Case in Court