Bankruptcy courts have exclusive power to hear all bankruptcy cases. Judges in bankruptcy court are authorized to make the final decisions on your case.
Bankruptcy courts operate on a federal level. In Arizona, there are five federal court locations throughout the state that hear bankruptcy cases. Although federal laws govern bankruptcy proceedings, there are local rules and exemptions that apply only in Arizona.
So how do bankruptcy courts fit into the overall justice system?
Federal Bankruptcy Court
Arizonans who are filing for bankruptcy will first start in a U.S. District Court. In Phoenix, the bankruptcy court is currently located on North First Avenue. Bankruptcy courts help consumers manage their severe debt. Every judicial district in the United States has its own bankruptcy court.
A federal judge who presides over these bankruptcy proceedings will make all the decisions in your case, including whether you're eligible to for bankruptcy or whether a debt discharge will be granted.
If you aren't satisfied with the outcome of the U.S. District Court's rulings, you can appeal your bankruptcy case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' Bankruptcy Courts.
Local Rules and Exemptions
Although bankruptcy is governed by federal law, Arizona state law is the final word on what property is exempt from your bankruptcy debt. This means that if the property is exempt under Arizona's statutes, then you get to keep it.
Some personal property that can be exempted in Arizona includes up to $150,000 of your home or property, insurance benefits up to $200,000 that are paid to surviving child or spouse, and up to $5,000 in one or more motor vehicles. In addition to local exemptions, you must also file local bankruptcy forms when beginning your bankruptcy proceeding.
The large number of exemptions and various types of bankruptcy options can be very confusing, so consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in Phoenix to figure out what's best for you.
- The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona FAQ (The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona)
- What Documents Are Needed for a Basic Bankruptcy Case? (FindLaw's Phoenix Bankruptcy Law News)
- Filing for Bankruptcy: Do You Need an Attorney? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Chapter 13 vs. Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (FindLaw)