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Finance: Bankruptcies

Bankruptcies - General Information

Bankruptcy Matters Are Not State Matters

Questions about bankruptcies are often framed as,  “How many bankruptcies were filed in e.g. (my State)?" It may not be entirely correct to assume that either a state or a state court system is making bankruptcy cases publicly available.

Bankruptcy filings are a federal legal matter and cases are handled by the U.S. Federal Court System. While bankruptcy cases are filed in United States Bankruptcy Courts (units of the United States District Courts), and federal law governs procedure in bankruptcy cases, state laws are often applied when determining property rights. For example, law governing the validity of liens or rules protecting certain property from creditors (known as exemptions), may derive from state law or federal law. Because state law plays a major role in many bankruptcy cases, it is often unwise to generalize some bankruptcy issues across state lines.

Introduction to Bankruptcy

Each of the 94 Federal Judicial Districts  handles bankruptcy matters, and in almost all districts, bankruptcy cases are filed in the Bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcy cases cannot be filed in State Courts. Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start by liquidating their assets to pay their debts, or by creating a repayment plan.

Bankruptcy laws also protect troubled businesses and provide for orderly distributions to business creditors through reorganization or liquidation. These procedures are covered under Title 11 of the United States Code (the Bankruptcy Code). The vast majority of cases are filed under the three main chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, which are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.

Sections of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code which may be applicable are:

Finding Bankruptcy Information

Places to Start


Supporting Material

U.S. Courts StatisticsThis section of provides statistical data on the business of the federal Judiciary. Specific publications address the work of the appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts; the probation and pretrial services systems; and other components of the U.S. courts. The links on the left (side of the page) will take you to a summary of content as well as the current reports and those dating back several years.

Judicial Business of the U.S. Courts is the most comprehensive set of detailed statistical tables published on the work of the federal Judiciary, plus charts and text explaining why increases or decreases occurred in the courts’ caseload.

  • The report provides data for the fiscal year ending September 30 for the U.S. courts of appeals, district courts and bankruptcy courts; the probation and pretrial services system; and other components of the federal Judiciary.
  • The Judicial Caseload Indicators table compares the Judiciary's current fiscal year caseload to its caseload 1, 5, and 10 years earlier.
  • Publications dating back to 1997 are available online.
  • Example: Judicial Business 2011

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts Sample Data