There are different types of bankruptcy. The bankruptcy types are referred to by the chapter of the Federal Bankruptcy Act which they are regulated by. The two most common types of bankruptcy that involve people (not businesses) are called Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves liquidating all assets to pay creditors. Depending on the state law, certain pieces of property can remain exempt from liquidation, such as certain personal items. During a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you will be required to file several forms with the court regarding finances and debts. A court appointed trustee will be representing the creditors’ interests. About one month after filing the necessary documents, there will be a meeting of creditors where the trustee will be present to answer any questions regarding your assets or debts. After the meeting, you will then begin the process of liquidating, or selling, your assets. The trustee then takes the proceeds from the sell and pays the creditors. The last step will be a final court hearing in which the court discharges the debts and the creditors no longer have legal right to collect any unpaid money.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which has become more common, occurs where the person in debt basically creates a payment plan to the repay all the creditors. As such, the court procedure is very different from a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. In addition to filing all the necessary document related to your finances, you will also be required to file your repayment plan, which the court must approve. After the plan is approved, you will almost immediately begin sending payments directly to the trustee assigned to your case. The trustee then pays your creditors and once everything has been paid according to the plan, the final court hearing will occur for you to be discharged.
Since Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a repayment plan, it can often be a very long time before all debts can be discharged by the courts. However, generally, with a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you can continue to live in your home, while, with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, since you will be required to liquidate all assets, your home will likely be included in this liquidation process.
Bankruptcy cases are different from many other legal cases in that they have their own court, know as a U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Each state has its own Federal Bankruptcy Court to handle all bankruptcy proceedings. Some states may only have one Bankruptcy Court, while other states have several. There are 94 Bankruptcy Courts which serve the 94 Federal Districts. Many states could have districts including Northern, Southern, Central, Eastern, or Western.
Due to the large amount of paper work filed during a bankruptcy proceeding, the type of records managed by the bankruptcy courts could include accounting of assets, debts, income, expenditures, tax returns, and copies of pay stubs or other proof of income. Most information in bankruptcy cases are public records. If you are looking for basic information in a Bankruptcy case, this can be obtained through the Voice Case Information System. Further information can also be obtained online through a Federal system called PACER; however, use of this system requires registration and does have fees. Bankruptcy court records can also be obtained by contacting a Bankruptcy Court Clerk in person or by phone or by running a search on http://www.criminalcheckusa.com/bankruptcy-check-info.htm. This site is a fee site but no registration is required. Courtreference.com provides access to state court information and is organized by state.