If I File for Bankruptcy, Will I Have to Go Before a Judge?

judgeSince my case will be filed with a bankruptcy court, does this mean I’ll be appearing in front of a judge?

Probably not. Every person who files for bankruptcy will meet with the trustee assigned to the case. But the trustee is not the judge. The judge won’t even be there to watch, because the Bankruptcy Code says the judge can’t attend the trustee meeting.

Your Meeting with the Bankruptcy Trustee

So who is the trustee? A bankruptcy trustee is a private citizen — usually a lawyer — appointed by the federal government to handle many of the administrative tasks in your bankruptcy case. The trustee represents the interests of your creditors as a group, but he or she does not represent any one creditor in particular.

Your meeting with the trustee is more informal than a hearing before a judge. The meeting is quick, usually no more than 5 to 10 minutes. In most of my cases, we meet with the trustee in the bankruptcy meeting rooms on the fourth floor of the historic Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in downtown Indianapolis, just two blocks from my office.

“All Rise….”

Besides the trustee meeting, some cases will require a hearing before a bankruptcy judge. This is more common in Chapter 13 cases than in Chapter 7.

In the Southern District of Indiana, which includes the Indianapolis area, most bankruptcy hearings can be handled by your attorney, without you having to attend in person and take time off from work. This is just one of the many benefits of hiring an attorney versus trying to represent yourself in bankruptcy court.

Every once in a while, one of my clients will need to attend a hearing with me because the client’s testimony is needed. In the unlikely event this happens in your bankruptcy case, rest assured we’ll talk before your hearing so you’re prepared and know what to expect.

Matt Conrad is an Indianapolis bankruptcy attorney and the founder of Conrad Legal LLC, which helps people in Central Indiana get out of debt with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

Posted in Bankruptcy Tagged with: ,