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Frequently Asked Questions
Who can file bankruptcy?
A debtor is a person or business that owes a creditor money, goods, or services. A bankruptcy can be filed by a debtor or creditors. When a debtor starts the bankruptcy by filing a petition, it is called a "voluntary bankruptcy." If creditors of the debtor start the bankruptcy, it is called an "involuntary bankruptcy." When an involuntary bankruptcy has been filed, the debtor has an opportunity to respond to the petition and show why they should not be in bankruptcy.
Debtors that are corporations, partnerships, and business trusts cannot proceed without an attorney representing them. Only an individual can proceed in a bankruptcy case without an attorney (also known as "Pro Se").
It is important to understand that the bankruptcy process is extremely complex. Individuals are strongly encouraged to seek competent bankruptcy counsel before filing or proceeding in a bankruptcy.
Is the bankruptcy court a state or federal court?
Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. This means that a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in a state court. There are three federal bankruptcy courts in the State of Oklahoma: the Northern District located in Tulsa, the Eastern District located in Muskogee, and the Western District located in Oklahoma City. The link below lists the counties served by the Northern District located in Tulsa.
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
The Bankruptcy Code is federal law, which is also referred to as Title 11 of the United States Code. It provides help for individuals or businesses in financial difficulty while, at the same time, dealing with their creditors evenhandedly. The Bankruptcy Code is divided into several chapters. Each of the chapters provides a different set of options for dealing with debt. Most cases are filed under Chapter 7, Chapter 11, or Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. The text of the Bankruptcy Code is available in law libraries, or on the internet at:
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a set of federal laws and rules that can help individuals and businesses who owe more debt than they can pay. In bankruptcy, the person or business that owes money is called the debtor. Bankruptcy permits the debtor to work out a plan to repay some or all of the debt, to liquidate assets, or to have some of the debt forgiven ("discharged") in an effort to obtain a "fresh start." The bankruptcy laws give the debtor protection and benefits not available outside of bankruptcy, such as requiring that creditors stop all collection efforts while the debtor is in bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, a debtor must make full disclosure of all assets, liabilities, and other financial information, and must either:
- surrender non-exempt (unprotected) property for liquidation and distribution to creditors, or
- provide a "plan" that pays creditors at least as much as they would receive if the assets were liquidated.