US Bankruptcy Court – A Brief Overview

When a debtor has to file for bankruptcy relief, they must file their petition with a US bankruptcy court only. It is a special court that handles bankruptcy cases only. In every state in the United States of America, there is at least one such court out there. However, if you see them collectively, they are a specialized unit under the federal court system. If you are considering filing a bankruptcy partition, you cannot do that with just any state court because bankruptcy is a legal option available under the federal law only, not under the individual state laws. The tasks and responsibilities of the judges appointed in these special courts are limited to process and review cases where individuals and businesses file a petition to get themselves declared as bankrupt. The exclusive role of these specialized courts is to offer a platform for the US citizens to seek financial protection through the provisions of bankruptcy under chapter 13, 11, or 7.

Number Of Judicial Districts

At present, there are ninety four judicial districts under the US bankruptcy court system. There are several district court judges appointed in each of the judicial district. There can be more than one bankruptcy court operating under each of these ninety-four judicial districts. It is also important to note that there are thirteen circuits (appellate districts), where the judicial districts are located in. There can be more than one federal circuits in a single state. For example, there are two federal circuits in the state of Washington – the Western Federal District Court and the Eastern Federal District Court. If any of the interested parties in a bankruptcy case is not satisfied with the judgment, they can file an appeal in an appellate district court. If the decision is not satisfactory again, a final appeal can be filed in the US Supreme Court also.


Though the US bankruptcy court system has been designed to handle bankruptcy cases, when a petition is filed with a federal judicial district court, they do not send the cases straightaway to the specialized court; instead they first review the cases on their level. The courts have generally been organized on the basis of state boundaries. There can be more than bankruptcy judge in a court whose task is to do the hearing and give judgments on the cases filed in that court. A detailed list of approved bankruptcy trustees is also maintained by each of these specialized courts. The trustee is actually a lawyer specialized in these types of cases. When an individual or a business is declared bankrupt by the court, a trustee is appointed to perform the various administrative tasks, such as to supervise the process of liquidation of assets and properties of the debtor under chapter 7 bankruptcy and then to facilitate payments to respective creditors.

If you do not have any idea on where a US bankruptcy court is located in your area, you can use the online court locator at the official website of the US courts.

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