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North Dakota Bankruptcy Records

Bankruptcy in North Dakota

Bankruptcy in North Dakota is a legal process for persons, businesses, and other entities that seek relief from their debts or assistance with resolving their debts. It is a federal court process that carries long-term financial and legal consequences. It essentially helps individuals and entities that cannot pay their debts to obtain a fresh start by disposing of their assets or setting up a repayment plan. It also protects struggling businesses and ensures that creditors are paid promptly through reorganization or liquidation.

Bankruptcy cases are addressed under federal laws and rules. Title 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and federal rules spell out the procedures, eligibility criteria, and other related bankruptcy issues. Bankruptcy cases are usually filed under three major chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, namely Chapters 7, 11, and 13. They are also under the exclusive jurisdiction of federal courts. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota handles bankruptcy and other related cases in North Dakota. Its address and contact information is below:

United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Dakota
Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office
Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
655 1st Avenue North
Suite 210
Fargo, ND 58102
(701) 297-7100

How Does Bankruptcy Work?

To begin a bankruptcy case, the debtor files a petition with the federal district court in North Dakota. This petition may be filed by a person, a legally married couple together, or an entity. The debtor must also produce statements detailing assets, income, liabilities, the names and addresses of all creditors, the amount owed to each. Once filed, the petition immediately stops or “stays” debt collection operations against the debtor and the debtor’s property. Creditors are unable to file or pursue litigation, garnish wages, or even make phone calls seeking payment while the stay is in force.

The clerk of court informs creditors that the debtor has filed a bankruptcy petition. A bankruptcy case may be filed to help a debtor reorganize and create a repayment plan, or it may be filed to liquidate the debtor’s assets. Most bankruptcy proceedings involving the liquidation of private consumer property, the debtor’s estate has little or no money available to pay creditors. Consequently, there are usually few concerns or disputes in these situations, and the debtor is usually given a “discharge” of most debts without complaint. This means that the debtor is no longer individually responsible for the debt repayment.

However, other times a bankruptcy case may lead to litigation action over certain issues. This includes who owns a particular property, the worth of the property, how it should be used, how much debt is owed, whether the debtor should be discharged from particular debts, or determining the amount of money that should be paid to professionals like the lawyers, accountants, or auctioneers. Litigation is done like how civil cases are handled in the district court. It may include discovery, pretrial processes, settlement efforts, and trial proceedings.

Information from bankruptcy cases is included in the court record of that case, except they are deemed confidential by law or court order. North Dakota bankruptcy records are available to the public. Interested persons may request copies in person or by mail from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota. They can also request records through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVIS) by calling (866) 222-8029. In addition, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) provides interested persons with case and docket information of bankruptcy court cases online. The National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) can be contacted for old or closed records that are not available through the aforementioned ways.

Court Oversight

As a right provided by the U.S. bankruptcy code, federal bankruptcy courts address all personal and corporate bankruptcy cases. Hence, instead of the North Dakota state courts, the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of North Dakota hears bankruptcy cases within the state. The records generated in these court proceedings are the official public records of bankruptcy. They contain all the relevant details about the claim, the motions filed, petitions, parties involved, and the court's eventual ruling. Asides from being generated and maintained by the bankruptcy court, these public records are subject to public viewing on request and are also reported by various credit reference companies.

What Do North Dakota Bankruptcy Records Contain?

Bankruptcy records constitute personal and financial information about any entity that filed a bankruptcy claim in North Dakota. Furthermore, the records indicate explicit details regarding how the case was handled and its conclusion. As a result, they contain every file that the debtor submitted to initiate the bankruptcy process. These records usually include:

  • Certificate of credit counseling and other financial management courses
  • A voluntary petition
  • A statement of the debtor's social security number (some of the information may be redacted)
  • A summary of the debtor's assets and liabilities, including real and personal property
  • Information about co-debtors, if any
  • A statement of the debtor's income, expenses, and other financial affairs
  • The debtor's declaration under penalty of perjury
  • Attorney's disclosure of compensation, if the debtor hired an attorney
  • Copies of the debtor's payment stubs or other evidence of payment that the debtor received within 60 days before filing the petition
  • A mailing list of creditors

Court or case information that can be found in a bankruptcy record include:

  • The district and jurisdiction where the bankruptcy claim was recorded
  • Case or file number
  • Filing date
  • Names of all debtors and creditors involved
  • The trustee
  • Bankruptcy case type or chapter
  • Docket information or summary of proceedings.

Mind that while all this information may be included in a bankruptcy record, not all of them are regarded as public information. Therefore, not every part of a record may be subject to public disclosure.

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

When an entity files a bankruptcy claim or petition under state and federal law, every information relinquished during that process becomes a public record. Hence, bankruptcy records are general information that is subject to public inspection and even duplication. This information includes bankruptcy records maintained by federal courts and credit reporting agencies.

Bankruptcy records are usually stored in multiple formats, including physical or electronic formats. Courts are mandated by law to give members of the public access to them on request. However, although bankruptcy court proceedings and records are open to the public, specific information may be withheld in extraordinary circumstances, such as when the court rules to seal a record. Overall, regardless of the outcome of a case, bankruptcy is a matter of public record, and thereby, public information.

Record seekers may obtain bankruptcy records from third-party websites. These non-governmental data platforms often come with tools that help simplify the search for single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. Most third-party sites require some information to process a search. Record seekers may need to provide:

  • A bankruptcy case number (if known)
  • The name of the debtor on record

How to Get North Dakota Bankruptcy Records

Because federal courts have sole jurisdiction over bankruptcy claims, bankruptcy records in North Dakota are largely generated and maintained by the United States Bankruptcy Court. District of North Dakota. Mostly, these records are available on request from the court clerk's office or via online channels such as PACER.

The bankruptcy clerk's office offers clerical and administrative support to the court. It performs these obligations by filing and storing case-related documents, sending notices to involved parties, and setting court hearings. Additionally, the office responds to requests for bankruptcy records and makes copies of these court files. Therefore, inquirers can visit or contact the bankruptcy clerk's office for available options to acquire physical bankruptcy court records. Under the U.S. District Court, Local Rule 1.5 that governs the use of electronic devices, the clerk's office can also provide copies of electronic bankruptcy documents filed before December 1, 2003, at the cost of $.50 per page.

United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Dakota.
Bankruptcy Clerk's Office
Quentin N. Burdick the United States Courthouse
655 1st Avenue North, Suite 210
Fargo, ND 58102
Phone: (701) 297-7100

Inquirers will need working subscriber accounts to use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). They can conveniently sign up via an online registration process. As a public access channel, PACER permits members of the public to obtain case and docket information generated by various courts under the federal judiciary, including the North Dakota bankruptcy court. Requesters must have details such as case location and case filing number to use PACER effectively. If the interested party does not know where the case is filed, they can use the PACER Case Locator to find that information.

Despite its effectiveness, PACER only provides access to bankruptcy cases filed after December 1, 2003. All electronic bankruptcy court files and documents filed before that time are available for public inspection via the public terminal located at the clerk's office. These documents may also be printed from the terminal at the cost of $0.10 per page.

Additionally, North Dakota bankruptcy judges typically use digital audio recordings to create official court records. These records are kept as Exhibits, Transcripts, and Courtroom Audio. The court favors these formats mostly because creditors and other interested parties in a bankruptcy case may not be at the same location during the proceedings. Maintaining these records saves the court time and monetary resources that may be expended to bring all parties to assemble in the same place. However, these kinds of court records are only available to parties of a case and their lawyers.

Furthermore, individual bankruptcy courts maintain their court case information independently and locally. Hence, inquirers can access bankruptcy records peculiar to the North Dakota bankruptcy court through the court's filing system. Parties interested in this service must create an account before gaining access to the database.

How Do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in North Dakota?

Closing a bankruptcy case implies that the bankruptcy court has completed all activities related to the case. That is, the court has ruled on all motions, and the assigned trustee has fulfilled all necessary duties. While this may seem like a definite win for the debtor, closing a case does not mean that the court issued a debt discharge order.

Per the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the court must notify the debtor or the debtor's attorney directly. If there is any delay in notification, the concerned entity can contact the court directly or check with the attorney. They can also use the Automated Case Information System to obtain basic court case information such as case status. Inquirers should simply dial _(866) 222-8029_from a touch telephone and follow the operator's instructions to listen to the information.

Also, because the credit reporting agencies are authorized to report public bankruptcy proceedings, entities in a bankruptcy case can confirm their case status by obtaining a copy of their credit report.

Can a Bankruptcy Be Expunged in North Dakota?

To expunge a bankruptcy record is to destroy the court files associated with the bankruptcy case or seal it from state and federal public records. Under normal circumstances, bankruptcy records are not eligible for expungement. The expungement process is complicated and is only granted under extraordinary circumstances.

If the presiding court judge does not deem an expungement or non-disclosure order necessary in a bankruptcy case, the record will remain open to the public. However, in some cases, entities in a bankruptcy case can petition the bankruptcy court to expunge or seal all or part of their bankruptcy records. This is common in cases of involuntary bankruptcy claims.

Involuntary bankruptcy cases are proceedings initiated by creditors rather than the debtors. Here, the creditor petitions the court on the debtor's behalf and requests that the person or business be declared bankrupt. This typically occurs when the creditor thinks that they will not recover debts. Therefore, a debtor can file a motion in the court to expunge the bankruptcy record if able to render convincing evidence that proves that the creditor filed the bankruptcy claim fraudulently.

What is the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

Although it provides particular reliefs for debtors, filing for bankruptcy in North Dakota has some consequences. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy costs $338, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy costs $313 in North Dakota. The fee does not include other courts, attorneys, accountants, and other professional fees. Since the filing process is usually extensive, complex, and stressful, the services of these professionals will most likely be needed. Also, filing for bankruptcy does not exclude a debtor from settling debts like alimony, child support, student loans, and criminal fines. The debtor must pay these debts while bankrupt.

Except the property is exempted from being taken by North Dakota laws, the debtor loses assets during liquidation, the properties may be sold to settle debts. As a result of bankruptcy, individuals may have to follow strict budgets to cut costs, while organizations may have to carry out massive layoffs and make business management changes.

Furthermore, bankruptcy records are generally public. Consequently, credit reporting agencies, landlords, and potential employers have access to them. By the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a bankruptcy – regardless of the outcome – must be reported on an individual’s credit report for not more than ten years. Therefore, a debtor’s credit score may suffer a significant drop unless the credit was previously low. This could lead to a slew of further issues, including:

  • The debtor’s credit card being canceled by the credit card company.
  • Getting another credit card may prove difficult for a while
  • Limited access to loans services
  • Lower credit scores mean higher interest rates
  • For some years, it may not be easy to obtain loans and mortgages.

Additionally, landlords and employers may opt to run a credit report and deny the debtor’s application if the bankruptcy record is discovered. The implication is that a debtor may be unable to obtain jobs involving financial or managerial roles while the record still exists.

There are also benefits that come with filing for bankruptcy. Eligibility for these benefits may vary depending on the circumstances of each applicant. The following benefits may be considered by people who file for bankruptcy:

  • For example, under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, creditors may be forced to allow debtors to spread debt repayment over up to five years. This will enable applicants to pay off their obligations in a comfortable manner.
  • Some bankruptcy cases are settled in a matter of months, allowing the debtor to begin the process of rebuilding their credit score
  • Debtors may be able to discharge medical bills, personal loans, or credit card obligations in some cases.

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

Chapter 11 bankruptcy in North Dakota is a debt relief option that allows a debtor to continue business operations, carry out trustee duties with court approval, and borrow more money. It is also called "reorganization bankruptcy." It requires the debtors to satisfy creditors by establishing a reorganization plan. A debtor can settle debts through periodic payments spread over an agreed period. It is usually businesses and corporate organizations that file for this form of bankruptcy to restructure their debt without suspending operations. However, certain individuals who do not qualify for other types may file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy is complex, costly, and time-consuming. The debtor must devise and file a payment plan acceptable to all creditors who may be affected within 120 days. It may be extended to an 18 months exclusivity period. After the creditors vote on the play, the court confirms that the plan meets other legal conditions. The plan proposes how the debtor can continue business operations, increase profits, keep assets and properties, borrow additional money, and pay creditors - whose claims shall be classified as unsecured, secured, or priority.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy case records are available to the public, except the court orders the record to be kept under seal or expunged. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota prescribes the filing requirements for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota involves a debtor liquidating non-exempt properties to settle debts legally. It happens where the trustee collects all of the debtor’s non-exempt assets and sells them to discharge existing debts. It is a quick and straightforward debt relief process but has the implication of causing asset loss and bringing business operations to an end. When a debtor files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court will impose an automatic stay stopping creditors from trying to collect on their debts. Most of the debtor’s property is seized and sold, with the money used to pay off as many debts as possible. A creditor can also institute a Chapter 7 bankruptcy process.

The debtor must pass the means test to be eligible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Eligibility is determined by the means test. This test examines the debtor’s income, family size, and expenses to decide the debtor’s ability to settle debts under Chapter 7 or if any other form of filing for bankruptcy will be more suitable for debt relief. Debtors with high disposable income usually do not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Debtors with incomes lower than North Dakota’s median income qualify for Chapter 7. If a debtor is eligible for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, they can discharge debts within five months. The process involves:

  • Enrolling for a credit counseling course
  • Submitting a petition to the court
  • The 341 hearing or meeting of the creditors
  • Partaking in a financial management class
  • Court discharge order

Chapter 7 bankruptcy case information is available to the public, except they are expunged or sealed. However, personal information, like Social Security Number, deemed confidential will not be disclosed unless authorization is obtained. A North Dakota Chapter 7 bankruptcy cannot be applied for if the debtor obtained the same in the last eight years. Interested persons can check out the filing requirements for Chapter 7 bankruptcy of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors in North Dakota to construct repayment plans to pay off their obligations. However, Chapter 13 is limited to workers with regular income. This is why it is commonly referred to as the wage earner’s plan. The debtor can restructure their debt to pay their creditors in more manageable installments within three to five years. Debtors with higher salaries who want to keep their homes will frequently file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Some debts may be discharged under Chapter 13, while others will require full payment via a payment plan.

This type of bankruptcy does not offer creditors as much power as Chapter 11 does, but it does assist in the discharge of non-priority unsecured debts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not available to persons who received a previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the last six years. Also, Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not accessible to persons who filed for Chapter 7 in the last four years or Chapter 13 in the last two years.

Unless sealed or expunged, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case will be open to the public. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota provides interested persons with the filing requirements of Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

What is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

There are a number of differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings. Liquidation is a part of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and the trustee in charge is responsible for overseeing the sale of the debtor’s non-exempt assets and properties. After that, the trustee pays creditors, returns the value of any relevant exemptions, and collects a fee. The Chapter 13 process, on the other hand, does not necessitate liquidation. A debtor who files for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must devise a repayment plan approved by creditors and the court.

Also, the eligibility standards for both types of bankruptcy are different. To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the applicant’s debt must be less than the current debt limit of the Bankruptcy Code. While Chapter 7 eligibility requires a means test that compares the debtor’s income to the state’s median income. Applicants with lower monthly incomes have an easier time qualifying than those with incomes above the state median.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy case can usually be completed in six months or less since it mandates prompt liquidation. Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, is more complex, with repayment arrangements lasting up to five years.

What is Bankruptcy Protection in North Dakota?

The automatic stay upon filing is the most important protection for people filing for bankruptcy in North Dakota. An automatic stay, enacted by Section 362 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, takes effect immediately after a debtor files a petition and prevents creditors from pursuing debts against the debtor. Hence, the debtor has time and opportunity to work out a repayment plan and is protected during this time because violators can be prosecuted and forced to pay for damages.

It should, however, be noted that not all activities are stopped during the stay. Tax audits, current criminal/civil processes, and payment of medical requirements are not affected. Also, certain pre-petition acts, including completed foreclosures and landlord legal actions, cannot be reversed.

Furthermore, there are a number of limitations on how long an automated stay can last. The automatic stay will no longer take effect after 30 days, where there was an earlier bankruptcy filing within one year.

What are North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Although bankruptcy cases are under federal jurisdiction, states are permitted to adopt laws on what property their residents can protect from creditors. Through North Dakota Century Code Chapter 28-22, North Dakota created its regulations on exempting property that cannot be taken from a debtor in the event of bankruptcy. The exemptions include:

  • Homestead exemption or equity in a dwelling used: The law protects up to $100,000 in home, trailer, mobile home, or surrounding land. There is no limit on acreage, as the law allows for the protection of contiguous parcels of land.
  • Motor vehicle exemption: The law protects up to $2,950 in equity in a motor vehicle. It increases this protection to $32,000 where the vehicle was modified to accommodate the owner’s disability, and the modifications cost a minimum of $1,500.
  • Personal property exemption: They include up to $5,000 in clothing, one family religious text, all family photos, one year’s worth of food and fuel, burial plots, all school books and books of the “family library,” all crops planted and harvested by the debtor on up to 160 acres of their residential property, and all insurance benefits received from coverage of exempt assets.
  • Pension and retirement account exemptions: The bankruptcy petitioner can exempt up to $100,000 in value from any retirement account that is tax-free under sections 401, 403, 408, 408(a), 414, 457, or 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, for a total of $200,000. If the debtor can show that more is needed for support, the cap may be waived. However, an account or fund must have been open for at least one year to be protected.
  • Other bankruptcy exemptions: Other exemptions are provided by North Dakota law, such as up to $1,500 in “tools of the trade.” There are a few “wildcard” exemptions available for specific situations. For instance, if the debtor is the head of the household, they can exempt $7,500 in personal property. Also, if the debtor does not use the homestead exemption, they can exempt $10,000 in any property. Furthermore, if the debtor is single and has no dependents, they can exempt $3,500 in any personal property.

What are the Other Types of Bankruptcy in North Dakota?

Aside from filing bankruptcy under Chapters 7, 11, and 13, there are three other bankruptcy options in North Dakota:

  • Chapter 9 bankruptcy: It concerns financially insolvent cities, towns, counties, or villages. It is also known as municipal bankruptcy. There is no provision for liquidating assets in this chapter. Instead, the debtor reorganizes debts and devises a strategy for repaying creditors, which may include renegotiation, interest or principal reduction, debt extension, or the acquisition of additional loans.
  • Chapter 12 bankruptcy: This type of debt relief is available only to bankrupt family fishers or farmers with a steady annual income. Like Chapter 13, debtors (within the total debt level) must produce a plan to repay creditors within three to five years. Interested persons can check out the filing requirements for Chapter 12 bankruptcy stated by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of North Dakota.
  • Chapter 15 bankruptcy: Insolvency proceedings involving parties with interests in two or more countries are dealt with in this chapter. Chapter 15 bankruptcy has systems in place to protect the interests of all parties involved in ancillary or cross-border cases.

There are also other debt-relief options in North Dakota such as debt consolidation, credit counseling, and debt settlement.

  • Debt consolidation loan: A debt consolidation loan allows a debtor to get a loan to pay off all creditors. Then the debtor will have the debt consolidation loan payment to handle.
  • Credit counseling plan: If the debtor accepts a debt repayment plan, creditors may be ready to drop their interest rates and accept smaller installments. These plans require the debtor to deposit a sum every month with the credit counseling service. The deposits are used to pay creditors according to a payment schedule devised by the counselor.
  • Debt settlement: This entails a debt relief agency negotiating with creditors on the debtor’s behalf to reduce the principal amount owed. The agency may also be able to negotiate a lower interest rate on such debts. Debt settlement in North Dakota can be quite appealing because this sort of debt management reduces some of the debt owing through debt forgiveness. However, this form of debt relief is not available to everyone.