Navigating the Dallas Bankruptcy Court System

Considering filing for bankruptcy can be an emotionally stressful decision as it usually follows already strenuous financial issues. What’s more, the actual process for filing can seem overwhelmingly complicated and complex. As an increasingly feasible option for providing financial stability to individuals and corporations, bankruptcy nevertheless involves navigating a complex court system with its own rules and procedures. The legal team at Steele Law Firm can provide you with guidance and experience in bankruptcy filing in the Dallas area.

Navigating the Dallas Bankruptcy Court System

How Does the Bankruptcy Court System Work?

The United States is broken into 94 federal judicial districts. Each one has its own U.S. district court with exclusive jurisdiction over all bankruptcy matters. The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 established the current system separating the bankruptcy courts. As a result, bankruptcy cases cannot be filed in state courts.

Filing for bankruptcy involves the following persons: 

  • Debtor. The debtor is the one filing the bankruptcy. Bankruptcy code considers the debtor the individual, partnership, or corporation in whose name the case is filed.
  • Bankruptcy trustee. Rather than having a judge preside over the proceedings, every bankruptcy case has a trustee. The trustee’s duties will vary depending on the type of bankruptcy filed. In most cases, the trustee will evaluate the details of the case, issue confirmation recommendations to the bankruptcy judge, file reports with the courts, and manage assets in cases involving liquidation.
  • Bankruptcy judge. Judges have limited roles in bankruptcy cases. Nevertheless, Texas has four U.S. federal bankruptcy chief judges – one for each of its districts. These judges preside over all the administration related to all bankruptcy matters and offer the final word of approval on all bankruptcy cases.
  • Bankruptcy attorney. The attorney’s job is to work with and for the debtor in appropriately filing the bankruptcy, including all related maintenance following an approval. While not legally required, bankruptcy attorneys are officially recommended by the United States bankruptcy court system due to the complexity involved in bankruptcy filing.

What Can I Expect From Filing Bankruptcy?

When you go to file for bankruptcy, your Dallas bankruptcy lawyer will walk you through each of the following steps:

  • Choose bankruptcy type. The most common types of bankruptcies include Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13 bankruptcies. The type you choose will depend on whether you plan to restart, restructure, or repay your debts.
  • Automatic stay. When a bankruptcy is filed, an automatic stay of all debt collection goes into immediate effect. This provides a debtor with protection and temporary relief as it prevents debt collectors and creditors from taking action to collect debts.
  • Trustee appointment. A bankruptcy trustee will be appointed to your case to oversee all of the proceedings of your bankruptcy claim.
  • Develop a plan. Depending on the type of bankruptcy filed, you and your attorney will develop a plan, such as a repayment plan, that the trustee will eventually present to the judge with a recommendation for approval.
  • Discharge and repayment. After approval by the judge, the debtor will either be discharged of personal liability and relieved of certain debts, or their repayment plan will be established for the specified period.
  • Public record. All bankruptcy records of filings will be available to the public immediately. Generally, the only ones interested in accessing this information are creditors and bankruptcy attorneys. Though anyone will be able to see whether you’ve filed for bankruptcy, the details of your finances and your social security number will remain private.

It should be noted that creditors have the right to participate in the proceedings as well. They may file their own claims to recover debts owed to them, or they may also challenge the debtor’s proposed repayment plan or pending discharge.


Q: What Bankruptcy District Is Dallas In?

A: Dallas, TX, falls in the Northern District of Texas. The Northern District of Texas comprises 100 counties within the state. Nine of the twenty most populous cities in Texas are in this district, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Lubbock, Garland, Irving, Amarillo, Grand Prairie, and Mesquite. Bankruptcy claims in this region would refer to the Dallas, TX office of the United States Trustee.

Q: Are Bankruptcy Proceedings Held in State Courts?

A: Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases, meaning that all bankruptcy proceedings will be handled by the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts rather than state courts. Due to the nature of bankruptcy claims, the courts handling these cases – which include individual, corporate, and government bankruptcies – have a unique system composed of many complicated and specific rules. Cases are handled in the bankruptcy court that falls into one of 90 different judicial districts throughout the country.

Q: Who Is the Judge for Bankruptcy in Texas?

A: The Chief Judge of the United States Bankruptcy Court Northern District of Texas is Stacey G. C. Jernigan. As the chief justice in the bankruptcy court in this district, it is her responsibility to preside over all administration related to bankruptcy matters. Additionally, she provides leading opinions and hears cases. In most cases, this federal judge will have a limited role in your case, as only a bankruptcy trustee is generally present at your hearing.

Q: Are Bankruptcies Public Record in Texas?

A: All bankruptcies are considered public record in the United States, and all bankruptcy filings in the state are made public record by the US Bankruptcy Courts in Texas. Anyone may contact the court and verify whether you have filed bankruptcy. The most widely used system for accessing these records online is through PACER, the Public Access to Electronic Records. There is a fee and a login required. Through PACER, individuals can access records, though social security numbers are protected.

Finding the Right Bankruptcy Attorney in Dallas

If your financial hardships are leading you to consider bankruptcy, don’t go it alone; seek the help of a qualified and experienced bankruptcy attorney today. Steele Law Firm offers comprehensive bankruptcy knowledge and understands the most effective ways to create a plan that works for your situation. Navigating the bankruptcy court system can be daunting, but with the right help, it can be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, allowing you to get back to living and rebuilding your life. For Dallas area representation and counsel in filing for bankruptcy, contact our office today.

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