The Bankruptcy Court Filing Process


Filing for bankruptcy is a step many debtors take to get back on their feet and find a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy helps those who have a significant amount of debt that they just can’t pay off with their current income.


While filing for bankruptcy can look differently from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, there is generally a straightforward process to follow. Here’s an overview, and a look at how NextChapter helps attorneys file bankruptcy cases for clients electronically.



How to file a bankruptcy case


Debtor hires a qualified attorney

While debtors can legally file without an attorney (which is called filing pro se), the first step should be to work with a bankruptcy lawyer. The process and requirements vary by location, including which forms to complete, which makes hiring an attorney important for debtors who may not have knowledge of the legal system.



Finding the right bankruptcy court

According to federal bankruptcy laws, when a debtor is considering filing for bankruptcy they must file their case in the federal district where their primary residence or place of business is located within the prior 180 days.


The appropriate court can be located by visiting the U.S. Courts website and searching for a bankruptcy court in a city.



Pre-filing requirements

Before a debtor files, they need to get credit counseling (180 days before filing). The bankruptcy filing will not be accepted unless they have completed the required courses.


Another requirement is to compile all of the debtor’s financial information and records so that they are able to present a complete picture of their situation to the court.



Filing the case with the court

Depending on the type of bankruptcy being filed, whether Chapter 7, 11, or 13, debtors will have specific bankruptcy forms to complete when filing with the court. All of these documents create the petition that is filed with the court.


Federal courts now allow filers and attorneys to submit electronically or through the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. This program helps everyone speed up the filing process using a PACER account.



Automatic stay

Once a case is filed with the court, an immediate automatic stay goes into effect, which restricts debtors’ creditors from being able to collect.



Meeting with creditors

After the bankruptcy petition is accepted, the debtor will be assigned a trustee by the court who coordinates a meeting between the applicable creditors.



NextChapter’s e-filing feature

The bankruptcy process can already take a lot of time, so speed things up by using NextChapter. File with your applicable district court directly through the platform with our simple ECF integration.


All you have to do is click “Review & File” when the petition is ready. We even give you a checklist to ensure you’ve completed everything properly. Drag and drop the bankruptcy schedules, include any other client documents, and reorder everything as you see fit. Then, you can file the bankruptcy packet with the court.


Post-submission, NextChapter provides a status bar to track progress. You’ll also get an email with all of the filing details.



Sign up for NextChapter to start streamlining case management and the bankruptcy filing process.