What is the Bankruptcy Code?

The Bankruptcy Code is the set of federal laws that govern all bankruptcy cases in the United States. The Bankruptcy Code is contained in Title 11 of the United States Code and is established by Congress. Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the authority to “establish… uniform laws on the subject of Bankruptcy throughout the United States.” Since bankruptcy is a strictly federal legal process, only federal courts may hear bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy cases are presided over by a U.S. district court judge or bankruptcy court judge.

The Bankruptcy Code is divided into separate Chapters. The first three Chapters (1, 3 and 5) deal with general bankruptcy rules and procedures. The remaining Chapters (7, 9, 11, 12, 13 and 15) deal with specific types of bankruptcy proceedings. The Chapters of the Bankruptcy Code are:

Chapter 1 – General Provisions (Sections 101 – 112)

Chapter 3 – Case Administration (Sections 301 – 366)

Chapter 5 – Creditors, the Debtor and the Estate (Sections 501 – 562)

Chapter 7 – Liquidation (Sections 701 – 784)

Chapter 9 – Adjustment of Debts of a Municipality (Sections 901 – 946)

Chapter 11 – Reorganization (Sections 1101 – 1174)

Chapter 12 – Adjustment of Debts of a Family Farmer or Fisherman with Regular Annual Income (Sections 1201 – 1231)

Chapter 13 – Adjustment of Debts of an Individual with Regular Income (Sections 1301 – 1330)

Chapter 15 – Ancillary and Other Cross-Border Cases (Sections 1501 – 1532)

A copy of the text of Bankruptcy Code is available online through Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute, or from the United States Government Printing Office website.

While the Bankruptcy Code contains the written laws that govern all bankruptcy cases, many state and federal laws may also apply to a specific case. In fact, bankruptcy cases are a homogenization of federal and state laws; federal and local bankruptcy rules; federal and state legal cases; the particular interpretation leanings of the presiding judge; and the customs of the individual court and bankruptcy trustees. Your bankruptcy attorney is experienced and skilled at navigating this complex system and correctly predicting the best course to achieve your fresh start.

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