U.S. federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. This means that you cannot file a bankruptcy case in a state court.  Bankruptcy laws help you get a fresh start when you can no longer pay your creditors. The laws allow you to liquidate your assets to pay your debts or create a payment plan.   Most cases are filed under the three main chapters of the Bankruptcy Code:

Chapter 7: Liquidation under the Bankruptcy Code – Providing for “liquidation,” ( i.e., the sale of a debtor’s nonexempt property and the distribution of the proceeds to creditors).

Chapter 11: Reorganization of Business – Providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A Chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in Chapter 11.

Chapter 13: Individual Debt Adjustments – Adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. Chapter 13 allows you to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years.

The fees for filing bankruptcy depend on the chapter of the bankruptcy code under which you file.

Although not required, a licensed attorney may be able to answer your questions and help you file the necessary bankruptcy forms.

You can obtain the required bankruptcy forms online if you choose to file a bankruptcy petition without the assistance of an attorney.

You can find bankruptcy case information online through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Please note: There is a user fee for accessing information through the PACER system.

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