State Resources
for Filing Personal Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is governed by U.S. law, not state law.

However, an individual filing personal bankruptcy in one state will likely have a different experience than someone filing in another state.

Why? Well, there are a few reasons. Here goes . . .

For specific information for your state, check out the
"Bankruptcy Information by State"
column on the left.

Local Bankruptcy Rules

There are 90 bankruptcy districts across the United States. Each state is comprised of one or more districts. In addition to the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, each district has its own set of local rules.

Your attorney will be knowledgeable regarding the local rules for your district. However, district bankruptcy courts also maintain websites, and the majority of district courts have their local rules posted online. If not, you may contact your clerk’s office to find out how to get a copy.

Bankruptcy Exemptions

Although bankruptcy is not governed by state law, states do make laws regarding the debtor-creditor relationship. This is important to know when it comes to understanding bankruptcy exemptions.

If an individual files personal bankruptcy, certain assets of the debtor are safe from unsecured creditors. However, these "safe" assets, or bankruptcy exemptions, vary widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction based on state law.

Bankruptcy Means Testing

A major factor in determining whether an individual can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy is by comparing their household income to their state's median income for the same size household (as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau).

If income exceeds the median, the individual may still be eligible to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy based on the results of a means test

Credit Counseling and Debtor Education Agencies

As part of the bankruptcy reform implemented in 2005, the majority of individuals filing personal bankruptcy must take a pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class, as well as a pre-discharge debtor education class. The providers of these classes are approved on a state-by-state basis.

In Conclusion

As you can see, personal bankruptcy does vary from state to state. Check out the resource box on the left to find specific information for your state, including links to:

  • district bankruptcy websites
  • state bankruptcy exemptions
  • Census Bureau information regarding median household income
  • approved credit counseling and debtor education agencies
  • and much, much more...

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