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What is a Bankruptcy Hearing?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2016
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Bankruptcy hearings are appearances before a bankruptcy court. The purpose of a bankruptcy hearing is to render a decision on some aspect of a petition for bankruptcy, or to ultimately grant or reject the petition. The exact structure of the hearing, as well as the number of hearings that take place before the bankruptcy is approved by the judge, often depends on the laws in force in a given jurisdiction and the type of bankruptcy action that is before the court.

In just about all locations, there is an initial bankruptcy hearing to determine if the petition has merit. That is, after reviewing the essentials of the situation, the judge will determine if the bankruptcy request is in line with applicable laws. With some types of bankruptcy, this simple hearing is all that is required. The judge can approve the petition and the process of creating the plan associated with the elimination of the debt goes into effect. Other situations may require an additional bankruptcy hearing before the court grants final approval.

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In many countries around the world, a bankruptcy hearing is a relatively short session, often no more than five to fifteen minutes. During this time, the debtor and the attorney of record are asked a series of basic questions, all of them required by local law. In some cases, a court appointed trustee asks the questions. Some jurisdictions require that the judge ask the questions while a trustee is present. If a second bankruptcy hearing is required at a later date, it normally is also of short duration.

Depending on the type of bankruptcy petition that is filed, creditors may or may not be present at the bankruptcy hearing. There are also some jurisdictions that do not require debtors to be present; instead their legal counsel represents them at the hearing. However, if local law does require the presence of the debtor, it is important to arrive at the hearing on time. Courts may choose to dismiss a petition if the debtor fails to be in the courtroom when the bankruptcy hearing begins.

Because the structure and function of a bankruptcy hearing can vary from one jurisdiction to another, it is important to engage legal counsel that is well-versed in applicable laws and can guide the individual through this legal request to resolve debt issues. Counsel can assist in making sure the court is provided with all relevant information and also ensure that the debtor complies with all requirements of the court. It is important to remember that a bankruptcy hearing is not a punitive measure, but one designed to help the court move forward in a manner that is in the best interests of all parties concerned.

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