How Bankruptcy Cases Move through Federal Courts

This is a straight-forward, online series of "documents" that provide a clear explanation of the bankruptcy code and procedures.  As the opening page explains: 

"The Bankruptcy Code provides individuals and businesses with the legal procedure for dealing with debt problems. The most commonly filed bankruptcy cases are those under Chapters 7, 11, and 13 of the Bankruptcy Code.  Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter. For the individual, Chapter 7 offers a chance for a financial fresh start.... Businesses in financial trouble that want to survive use Chapter 11. It's known as the business reorganization chapter.... Chapter 13 is similar to Chapter 11, but it's for individuals with fairly small debts, and the court, not the creditors, decides whether to approve the repayment plan. Congress designed Chapter 13 for people who work hard and try to pay their bills, but get into financial trouble because of emergencies or poor money-management skills."

The interactive website (in a slideshow environment with clickable links) includes clear flow charts for Chapter 7, 11, and 13 cases, making the complex processes easily accessible.  Users can click on any text in the flow chart and learn about that step within the process.

This resource is a part of the FJC overview of the Federal Courts (see other links below).  As with the other FJC resources, this one links to other resources and includes embedded glossary terms.


How do you use it?

This resource could be used by students as a stand-alone resource or it could serve judges who wanted to mine the information for translation into a powerpoint. 

The resource could also be the foundation for a several day segment on bankruptcy; used that way, a teacher or judge could add segments using sample bankruptcy schedules, an explanation of the state's exemptions, a showing of a meeting of creditors (such as the one shown in the Bankruptcy Basics video), and, if a business class is the audience, a sample chapter 11 plan of reorganization.

Depending on whether students are to access the material themselves, individual computers might be needed, or a presenter would want a laptop w/ projector or smart board.  Presenters could circulate the included flow charts as hand-outs.

Who is the audience?

This resource is most appropriate for high school or college students, particularly general business/finance/ pre-law students.

What other resources will complement this?

  1. Bankruptcy Basics  Website/documents from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts (H, A) 
  2. Quiz #6:  Bankruptcy  Lesson Plan from the Federal Judicial Center (M, H, A)
  3. What is a Bankruptcy Case?  Document from the Federal Judicial Center (M, H, A)

Additional Recommended Resources Off-Site Links
  1. A Constitutional Timeline
    • Multi-aged audience timeline that highlights key dates in history of Constitution, with links to text, audio and video clips. From National Constitution Center's Constitution Day site. 
  2. Interactive Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that enables users to search Constitution by keyword or topic, with access to explanatory materials throughout. From National Constitution Center.   
  3. The Annenberg Guide to the United States Constitution
    • Multi-aged audience site that lists the text of each section of every article in the Constitution, and provides explanation of what the text means in plain language.  From the Leonore Annenberg Institute of Civics. 
  4. Understanding the Federal Courts
    • Multi-aged online textbook-type document that includes sections on Article III, the Federal Court system and the geographical boundaries of the Courts of Appeal and the District Courts, the code of conduct for judges, juror qualifications, exemptions and terms of service, as well as categories of bankruptcy cases.  From the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts.