A good question that bankruptcy attorneys hear every day is, "Who will know about my bankruptcy?" Generally speaking, bankruptcy is a confidential process, however, the Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure require that notice of one's bankruptcy case must be sent to certain individuals and businesses.
Bankruptcy is a legal process and therefore is public record. While it used to be a more common practice, these days few newspapers will publish bankruptcy filings in the "public notices" section. This is because the number of bankruptcy filings makes reporting personal bankruptcies impractical. In 2011, more than a million and a half people will file bankruptcy, and more than 5.7 million people have filed since September 30, 2005. So, unless you are famous or your bankruptcy case is newsworthy for some other reason, notice of your filing is unlikely to be printed in your local newspaper.
When your case is filed, you are required to submit a list of the names and addresses of every individual or business you owe. . Everyone on that list receives a notice of your bankruptcy. The notice also prohibits the creditor from taking any further collection activity. The bankruptcy court will send notices only to the names on your list of creditors, to your attorney, and a notice to you. Friends and family members are not sent notices unless you identify them as a creditor on your list.
In a few limited situations, your employer may receive notice regarding your bankruptcy. Naturally, if you owe your employer money, your employer will be notified. Another reason is if you file a Chapter 13 repayment bankruptcy and wish for your employer to withhold the plan payment from your pay checks. There could also be other reasons to notify your employer, like if your employer is under a court order to garnish your wages and they need to be notified to stop the garnishment.
Since your bankruptcy is public record, any individual may contact the bankruptcy court to obtain information about your case. The majority of bankruptcy courts have an automated telephone system that will provide basic case information to the public. However, some individuals are able to access the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain bankruptcy case information via the internet. PACER registration is free, but the system charges a an access fee per page.
Most bankruptcy cases are confidential. However, every case is different. If you have specific questions about the effects of filing a bankruptcy, call us today. The attorneys at Miller and Miller can explain the benefits of the federal bankruptcy laws and the process for discharging your debts.