Arti­cle I, Sec­tion 8, of the United States Con­sti­tu­tion autho­rizes Con­gress to enact “uni­form Laws on the sub­ject of Bank­rupt­cies.” Under this grant of author­ity, Con­gress enacted the “Bank­ruptcy Code” in 1978. The Bank­ruptcy Code, which is cod­i­fied as title 11 of the United States Code, has been amended sev­eral times since its enact­ment. It is the uni­form fed­eral law that gov­erns all bank­ruptcy cases.

The pro­ce­dural aspects of the bank­ruptcy process are gov­erned by the Fed­eral Rules of Bank­ruptcy Pro­ce­dure (often called the “Bank­ruptcy Rules”) and local rules of each bank­ruptcy court. The Bank­ruptcy Rules con­tain a set of offi­cial forms for use in bank­ruptcy cases. The Bank­ruptcy Code and Bank­ruptcy Rules (and local rules) set forth the for­mal legal pro­ce­dures for deal­ing with the debt prob­lems of indi­vid­u­als and businesses.

There is a bank­ruptcy court for each judi­cial dis­trict in the coun­try. Each state has one or more dis­tricts. There are 90 bank­ruptcy dis­tricts across the coun­try. The bank­ruptcy courts gen­er­ally have their own clerk’s offices.

The court offi­cial with decision-making power over fed­eral bank­ruptcy cases is the United States bank­ruptcy judge, a judi­cial offi­cer of the United States dis­trict court. The bank­ruptcy judge may decide any mat­ter con­nected with a bank­ruptcy case, such as eli­gi­bil­ity to file or whether a debtor should receive a dis­charge of debts. Much of the bank­ruptcy process is admin­is­tra­tive, how­ever, and is con­ducted away from the cour­t­house. In cases under chap­ters 7, 12, or 13, and some­times in chap­ter 11 cases, this admin­is­tra­tive process is car­ried out by a trustee who is appointed to over­see the case.

A debtor’s involve­ment with the bank­ruptcy judge is usu­ally very lim­ited. A typ­i­cal chap­ter 7 debtor will not appear in court and will not see the bank­ruptcy judge unless an objec­tion is raised in the case. A chap­ter 13 debtor may only have to appear before the bank­ruptcy judge at a plan con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing. Usu­ally, the only for­mal pro­ceed­ing at which a debtor must appear is the meet­ing of cred­i­tors, which is usu­ally held at the offices of the U.S. trustee. This meet­ing is infor­mally called a “341 meet­ing” because sec­tion 341 of the Bank­ruptcy Code requires that the debtor attend this meet­ing so that cred­i­tors can ques­tion the debtor about debts and property.



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None of the infor­ma­tion on this site con­sti­tutes legal advice. It is an ad for attor­ney ser­vices. The attor­neys at DeDecker & Meltzer are licensed attor­neys in the state of Cal­i­for­nia. The infor­ma­tion is intended to be gen­eral in nature as there are many laws and reg­u­la­tions not men­tioned on this site that may apply to your sit­u­a­tion.