United States Bankruptcy Courts

If you're considering bankruptcy, you should familiarize yourself with local bankruptcy court rules and procedures. The Bankruptcy Code is a federal law. However, there are U.S. District Courts in every state. Your bankruptcy case will take place in the U.S. District Court in the federal district in which you live.

The district courts have jurisdiction over specific geographic areas. In total, there are 94 U.S. District Courts. Some states have more than one U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Before filing your bankruptcy petition, you must confirm which judicial district handles your jurisdiction.

Types of Bankruptcy

There are several types of bankruptcy. However, generally for individual consumers, the two types of bankruptcy cases are filed under Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, the court discharges some or all of your debt. Once the bankruptcy is over, you no longer owe money to the creditors included in the bankruptcy petition.

In a Chapter 13 case, the court doesn't discharge your debt. Instead, the trustee will negotiate a long-term repayment plan with your creditors. Your repayment plan will last anywhere from three to five years. Once you complete your monthly payments, the court will likely discharge any remaining debt.

Regardless of which type of bankruptcy you file, the court may exclude certain debts. Specifically, the court may exclude secured debts from your discharge or repayment plan. This includes mortgages, car loans, and personal loans tied to collateral.

Finding Your Bankruptcy Court

The bankruptcy court in your district handles all bankruptcy matters. If you live in a state with more than one district, you might need to find out which district you are in. Most of the bankruptcy court websites provide lists or maps of counties that are within that district.

A bankruptcy attorney can also help you find the proper U.S. bankruptcy court in your district. If you need to appeal the judiciary's findings in your case, you will do so through the U.S. Court of Appeals for your district. The appellate court will review the lower court's proceedings and determine if the bankruptcy judge and United States trustee should've approved your bankruptcy petition.

History of Bankruptcy Proceedings and Courts

Bankruptcy laws have changed since Congress created the first Bankruptcy Act in 1800. These rules and procedures govern the bankruptcy process.

There have been several bankruptcy acts and rules over the years. Some of these include the following:

  • The Bankruptcy Code of 1978: These statutes codified the U.S. bankruptcy laws. The Code is still in place today and is the ultimate authority for U.S. Bankruptcy judges.
  • The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2001: Also known as the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA), this law made it harder for consumers and businesses to file Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It also gave judges the power to dismiss bankruptcy petitions and convert cases to Chapter 13. This law ultimately led to the revised BAPCPA of 2005.
  • New Bankruptcy Rules in 2005: In 2005, Congress revisited the 2001 BAPCPA and made the requirements for liquidation bankruptcy much stricter. For example, debtors must pass a "means test" to qualify for bankruptcy. If a filer makes more than the median income in their state, the court can and will amend their case to a Chapter 13 reorganization.
  • Temporary Changes: Congress has passed specific laws addressing bankruptcy during extenuating circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Congress has issued many amendments to the original Bankruptcy Code as business and consumer spending changes. The most current laws govern all bankruptcy filings and bankruptcy cases. Each bankruptcy court has local rules, but all bankruptcy courts work similarly.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court District Websites

This Section contains links to U.S. Bankruptcy Courts websites in each of the 50 states and Puerto Rico.


Bankruptcy Court District Website

  • District of Alaska: Includes court calendar, decisions, local rules, general orders, reference manual, national forms, and more.
  • District of Arizona: Includes local rules, electronic filing information, and other court information.
  • District of Colorado: Includes rules, procedures, calendar, forms, fees, opinions, and more. This site also offers a live chat option.
  • District of Connecticut: Features court locations, phone directory, local rules, and access to public information through PACER for a fee.
  • District of Delaware: Has general court information, PACER, electronic filing, general bankruptcy forms, judicial opinions, select bankruptcy reports, and links to related information.
District of Columbia
  • Eastern District of Michigan: Features general court information, public information available through Pacer, general bankruptcy practice materials, bankruptcy forms, court calendars, selected judicial opinions, and links to related information. This page also offers links for pro-se electronic filing.
  • Western District of Michigan: Includes fee schedule, local and official forms, calendar, opinions, and more.
  • District of Minnesota: Includes court calendar, case information, opinions, and more. This site also offers the option of receiving email updates from the courts.
  • District of Nebraska: Includes official bankruptcy forms, local rules, directory, opinions, and more.
New Hampshire
  • District of New Hampshire: Includes court calendars, directory, forms, schedules, reports, local rules, administrative orders, and more.
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
  • District of North Dakota: Features general court information, public information available through PACER, general bankruptcy practice materials, bankruptcy forms, court calendars, selected judicial opinions, electronic case filing, and links to related information.
  • District of Oregon: Includes calendars, court fees, local rules, orders, forms, and more.
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
  • District of South Dakota: Includes local rules, forms, decisions, case information, practice pointers, calendars, and more.
  • Eastern District of Virginia: Includes local rules, opinions, bankruptcy forms, and more.
  • Western District of Virginia: Features general court information, PACER information, an overview of Chapter 11, filing information, bankruptcy forms, local rules, filing fees, court calendars, and links to related sites.
West Virginia
Puerto Rico

Get Bankruptcy Help From a Legal Professional

If you believe that a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy is your best option for debt relief, contact a bankruptcy attorney. They'll review your financial situation and advise whether bankruptcy will help. They'll also let you know if they think the bankruptcy judge will approve your bankruptcy petition.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, a local attorney can help with your bankruptcy filing. Find an experienced bankruptcy attorney near you today.

Was this helpful?