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Arizona Bankruptcy Records

What are Arizona Bankruptcy Records?

Bankruptcy cases in Arizona are legal proceedings through which individuals, businesses, companies, and families can obtain financial freedom from their debts. Bankruptcy also provides creditors or lenders with opportunities for repayment. Arizona courts are not authorized to hear bankruptcy cases. Instead, bankruptcies are governed by federal law. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona generates court files that contain explicit personal and financial information of the entities that file bankruptcy actions. It also documents every step from the moment the debtor files a petition (in uncommon cases, the creditors may file on the debtor’s behalf) to the moment the debts are discharged, and the case is closed or dismissed.

What Do Arizona Bankruptcy Records Contain?

Arizona bankruptcy records contain personal information voluntarily provided by the debtor who files the claim. The bankruptcy court demands this information to verify the debtor’s identity and claim. This information includes:

  • Debtor’s personal and business name, including any alternatives used
  • The debtor’s gender and date of birth
  • Debtor’s home and business address
  • Debtor’s occupation or the type of business

A debtor must also provide accurate financial information upon filing a petition. This allows the court to decide the best financial solution for the debtor and creditors involved. On filing, these documents become part of the debtor’s bankruptcy record. Such information includes:

  • Credit counseling certificate
  • Social security number statement
  • A mailing list that contains names and addresses (including zip codes) of the creditors
  • Schedules and statements of financial affairs
  • A complete list of the debtor’s assets and liabilities.
  • A comprehensive list of the debtor’s income, federal income tax returns for the last two years, paycheck stubs, and bank account statements.

A bankruptcy record will also contain case and court-related information, including:

  • The official date when the claim was filed
  • Case status
  • Discharge, dismissal, or discharge suspension date, depending on the court’s final ruling
  • The date that the bankruptcy order was issued
  • Court name and address
  • Reference number
  • Previous bankruptcy dates, if applicable
  • Trustee’s name and contact information

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

Unless sealed by federal law, all documents filed in a bankruptcy claim are open to members of the public for viewing and copying. These records are obtainable from the bankruptcy courts in the state. However, federal laws require that some specific information be deleted or redacted from bankruptcy court documents before making them available for public inspection. These include personal information such as home addresses, minor children’s names, social security numbers, and financial information such as bank accounts.

How to Get Arizona Bankruptcy Records

Generally, Arizona bankruptcy court records are generated and maintained by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona. As a result, the court is responsible for disseminating bankruptcy records to members of the public through various channels. Regardless of the multiple electronic and physical channels, it is always advisable for inquirers to visit the court that addressed the case to obtain complete bankruptcy records.

There are five bankruptcy court locations in Arizona. While the Flagstaff and Bullhead City court locations are mainly hearing locations, the Phoenix, Tucson, and Yuma court locations provide hearing, filing, and record collection services. Therefore, depending on the inquirer’s preference and location, they can visit the court clerk’s office during regular business hours to inspect or copy bankruptcy records.

If the inquirer prefers 24-hour online access to bankruptcy records, the individual may use the government-provided electronic public access service called Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). The federal judiciary provides and funds this centralized service to keep its commitment to providing public access to court information. The service allows registered users to obtain public case and docket information from federal appellate, district, and bankruptcy courts. Similarly, each federal bankruptcy court in Arizona maintains its case information locally through the District of Arizona CM/ECF Document Filing System.

Record seekers looking for an alternative to government sources may obtain bankruptcy records from third-party websites. These non-governmental websites 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. To obtain bankruptcy case information using third-party sites, record seekers may need to provide:

  • A complete name of the debtor involved in the record
  • A bankruptcy case number

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

Typically, when a bankruptcy case ends, the court either discharges the debts or dismisses the case without a discharge. Regardless of how the case was closed and unless the debtor has an attorney, the court will typically send a direct mail to the entity as a notification of the case status. Debtors who believe they should have received the notification, but have not, can contact their attorney or the court. Other times, record seekers may be able to confirm the case status using the PACER Case Locator. The entity must possess a PACER account to use this service. As an alternative, with a valid social security number, the party can use the VCIS system by dialing (866) 222-8029 from a touch telephone. Overall, they can visit or contact the appropriate court for inquiries:

Court Locations

Phoenix
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
230 North 1st Avenue, Suite 101
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Tucson
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
38 South Scott Avenue
Tucson, AZ 85701

Yuma
(Hearing and in-person filing location)
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
98 West 1st Street, 2nd Floor
Yuma, AZ 85364

Flagstaff
(Hearing location only)
AWD Building
123 North San Francisco Street
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Bullhead City
(Hearing location only)
Superior Court
Courtroom R
2225 Trane Road
Bullhead City, AZ 86442

Can a Bankruptcy Be Expunged in Arizona?

Bankruptcy cases are court proceedings, which makes them matters of public record unless sealed or expunged by court order. To expunge a record is to delete or destroy it such that it is removed from public view or treated as if it never existed. Therefore, when a bankruptcy record is expunged, it is removed from the public archives and made inaccessible.

Hence, on some occasions, the presiding judge may issue a court order to seal or expunge part or all of a bankruptcy record if any information contained within the record may present a threat to any entity’s safety. Also, if it comes to the court’s attention that the bankruptcy claim was fraudulent, the court may dismiss and expunge the case.

Because bankruptcy records are considered public records, they are reported on an entity’s credit report. If the bankruptcy record is expunged or sealed, it will not be reported by any credit reporting agency. If not, the bankruptcy public record will remain on the debtor’s credit report for as long as ten years if associated with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If it is related to a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, it will be deleted automatically after seven years.

Concerned entities can remove a bankruptcy record from their credit report before it is automatically removed. If any party determines that any information on the record is incorrect or fraudulent, they can review the bankruptcy filing and file a dispute. When they file the dispute, it must be verified and validated. When the credit bureau affirms that the details are incorrect, the record will be removed from the report.

Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona

Bankruptcy in Arizona is a legal proceeding that allows persons who cannot repay their debts to obtain a fresh financial start. A person who declares bankruptcy in Arizona and goes through the legal process can liquidate their assets to pay off their debts or reorganize and come up with a repayment plan. Bankruptcy will prevent creditors from attempting to recover payment or any asset used to secure the payment outside of the repayment plan. It may also lead to a discharge of debts.

Arizona Bankruptcy Process

The process for bankruptcy in Arizona is determined by the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, with bankruptcy cases filed in bankruptcy courts rather than Arizona state courts. Federal Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. The primary purpose of the bankruptcy law is to give an honest individual with more debt than they can afford to repay a fresh start by settling a majority of the debts. It also helps with the orderly repayment of debts to the extent that the debtor’s existing property can cover the debts.

The exact result depends on the type of bankruptcy case the debtor files. Some bankruptcies will allow the debtor to reorganize and develop a plan to repay the creditors, while some others involve the liquidation of the debtor’s assets.

Both individuals and businesses may file bankruptcy. However, the court would consider several factors to determine if the person qualifies for bankruptcy. The debtor would need to inform the court of their income, expenses, and assets. This includes current income sources, monthly living expenses, secured and unsecured debts, and assets. Any attempt to hide information that should be filled in the forms while filing bankruptcy may jeopardize the application if detected by the judge.

The 2005 Bankruptcy Act requires debtors who file bankruptcy on or after 17 October 2005 to go through credit counseling within six months of filing the bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy is filed, the court considers whether the person is eligible. The debtor qualifies for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if their average income over the previous six months is below the median Arizona income. The court would also consider whether a majority of the debts are consumer debts or business debts.

The District of Arizona United States Bankruptcy Court recorded 25,800 bankruptcy filings in 2020.

What is the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A significant downside of filing bankruptcy in Arizona is that it may stay on the debtor’s credit report for up to ten years. This may limit the credit options available to the person. Financiers often try to ensure that persons granted loans will eventually be able to repay the loans. A bankruptcy affects this and could therefore prevent them from granting a loan. Some of the other downsides of filing bankruptcy in Arizona include:

  • The debtor may lose property they own that does not fall under the exemption list. The bankruptcy trustee may sell such property to repay creditors.
  • The debtor may lose access to credit cards.
  • The debtor would be barred from filing for another bankruptcy for a few years.
  • A bankruptcy does not get rid of all debts. The debtor would still pay alimony, child support, some taxes, and fines.
  • A bankruptcy may make it difficult to secure a mortgage.

Despite the downsides, there are advantages to filing for bankruptcy. It provides several benefits in some instances, such as:

  • Bankruptcy allows the debtor to clear a majority of their debt or develop a repayment plan.
  • Bankruptcy can stop harassment and other actions to reclaim debt by creditors. This includes preventing any foreclosure or repossession of assets. Any attempt to do this by the creditor once bankruptcy proceedings have begun shall have legal consequences.
  • Bankruptcy can help the debtor rebuild credit faster. If the debtor remains unable to pay, their credit score will suffer anyway. With bankruptcy, the debtor can get a second chance.

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Arizona, also called reorganization bankruptcy, is a form of bankruptcy that allows the debtor to continue normal business operations with a repayment plan. The debtor may even borrow new money with the approval of the court. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy may be proposed by either the debtor or any of the creditors. The creditors vote on the repayment plan and the plan is approved by the court if it has the required votes and satisfies some other legal requirements. In Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, the debtor remains in possession, with the powers and duties of a trustee. Therefore, the debtor has a duty of honesty and good faith towards the creditors.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy usually begins with a petition. It may be a voluntary one filed by the debtor under 11 U.S.C. § 301 or an involuntary petition filed by the creditors under 11 U.S.C. § 303. Unless the court states otherwise, the debtor is also to file the following with the court:

  • A schedule of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
  • A schedule of all unexpired leases and executory contracts the debtor is a party to
  • A statement of the debtor’s financial affairs
  • A schedule of the debtor’s current income and expenditures

An individual or married couple filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy would also be required to file:

  • A certificate of credit counseling
  • Evidence of payment from an employer, if there is any, within 60 days of filing
  • A statement regarding the debtor’s monthly net income and any expectation of an increase in income

The bankruptcy shall remain on the debtor’s record for ten years.

Who Files for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

The debtor or three or more of the creditors acting jointly may file a petition for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Arizona. The bankruptcy may be for an individual, a couple, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. Once the bankruptcy has been filed, the creditors are prevented from possessing any of the debtor’s property. The debtor can continue to operate without liquidating property. The court would grant the debtor a period of time to come up with a repayment plan. Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 1121(b), the repayment plan should be filed within 120 days if the debtor is not a “small business debtor”. The court may discretionarily increase or reduce the period of time within which the debtor should file the plan. However, it should not exceed 18 months as required by 11 U.S.C. § 1121(d). The creditors may file a repayment plan if the debtor fails to do so.

Why File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a debtor to hold on to their assets and continue operating their business without liquidating. The payment plan may also include a reduction of the debt to be paid. It is an option for individuals and businesses when the situation is not so severe that it requires a total liquidation and there is still some likelihood that the debt may be repaid. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a business to continue operating and potentially come out of bankruptcy after a few years. Therefore, it is suitable for businesses that are likely to become profitable in the future and have the potential to repay their debts.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona is a form of bankruptcy in which the debtor’s nonexempt assets are liquidated to pay off creditors. A trustee would gather the debtor’s property that is nonexempt and sell them. Under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor may still hold on to some exempted property such as a house and car up to a certain value. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most difficult bankruptcy to obtain as it discharges most debts once the assets have been liquidated. Therefore, bankruptcy courts attempt to ensure that it is not abused by debtors and used to escape debt dishonestly.

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Arizona usually begins with the debtor filing a petition at a bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court in which the debtor files the petition should serve the area where the debtor’s residence or place of business is located. Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 521, the debtor should also file:

  • A schedule of unexpired leases and executory contracts the debtor is a party to
  • A schedule of the debtor’s current expenditure and income
  • The debtor’s statement of financial affairs
  • A schedule of the debtor’s assets and liabilities

Debtor’s with primarily consumer debts as opposed to business debts are also to additionally file:

  • A certificate of the mandatory credit counseling and any debt repayment plan that was developed during the credit counseling
  • A statement regarding the debtor’s monthly income and any projected increase in income
  • Evidence of payment from employers received within 60 days, if it exists

The bankruptcy court charges a $335 fee. $245 is charged for case filing, $75 is charged for miscellaneous administrative fees, and $15 is charged for trustee surcharge. The fees should usually be paid to the court upon filing. However, the debtor may pay in up to four installments with the last installment not being later than 120 days after filing. The Court may discretionarily extend the time limit within which the fees should be paid as long as it is within 180 days from the date of filing. The court may waive the fees for the debtor if the debtor’s income is less than 150% of the poverty level. The debtor would need to provide the following information to the court while filling the bankruptcy form.

  • A list of all assets owned by the debtor
  • The source, amount, and frequency of the debtor’s income
  • A list of all creditors and the amount owed to each one
  • A detailed list of the debtor’s monthly expenses

Do I Qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

Individuals, partnerships, corporations, or other business entities may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The court would usually use the “means test” to ensure that the Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not being abused if the debtor’s monthly income is above the state median. The court would prevent a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if the debtor may still pay their debts. Subject to the means test, the debtor may obtain a Chapter 7 bankruptcy irrespective of the amount of the debt. Any individual filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy should have received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency within 180 days of filing the bankruptcy. Also, individuals who had a bankruptcy case dismissed within the preceding 180 days for willful failure to appear before the court or failure to obey a court order may not file bankruptcy.

Why File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a discharge of most debts. The debtor may also hold on to exempt property such as a house and car. There is no minimum or maximum threshold for the debt. Therefore, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows an honest debtor to restart their life financially while holding on to essential property.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona is a form of bankruptcy that allows a person who earns regularly to repay all or part of their debts over three to five years through a repayment plan. The plan would be for three years if the debtor earns less than the median income in Arizona, while the plan would be for five years if the debtor earns more than the median income in Arizona. During the period of time, the debtor would pay the creditors in installments.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy begins with filing bankruptcy in the bankruptcy court serving the area where the debtor resides or is domiciled. The debtor must also file the following unless the court orders otherwise.

  • Schedules of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
  • The debtor’s statement of financial affairs
  • A schedule of unexpired leases and executory contracts the debtor is a party to
  • A schedule of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
  • A certificate showing that the debtor attended credit counseling and any debt repayment plan developed during credit counseling
  • Evidence of payment from an employer received within 60 days of the date of filing, if it exists
  • A statement of the debtor’s monthly income and liabilities and any projected increase

The court charges a $235 case filing fee and a $75 administrative fee to be paid to the clerk of the court upon filing. The court may permit installment payments in at most four installments. The last installment should be paid within 120 days from the date of filing, although the court may grant 180 days if there is cause. The court may dismiss the bankruptcy case if the debtor fails to pay the fees.

Filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona creates an automatic stay for the collection of most debts. Creditors may be prevented from starting or continuing legal action to recover debt, repossessing property, or even foreclosure. However, it will not prevent collectors from taking action to retrieve some kinds of debts pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(b). The automatic stay also protects co-debtors, as a creditor cannot seek to collect a consumer debt from individuals liable along with the debtor.

Do I Qualify for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

Individuals with unsecured debts less than $394,725 and secured debts less than $1,184,200 are eligible for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Arizona. A partnership or corporation cannot file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. An individual cannot file bankruptcy if a bankruptcy petition was dismissed within the preceding 180 days because they willfully failed to appear before the court or disobeyed a court order. The individual should have also received credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agent.

Why File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Arizona?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy may allow a debtor to reschedule debts and pay the debts over a period of time. The payments may also become lower. A debtor may use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to prevent a foreclosure on their home and prevent other collection actions without liquidating all of their assets.

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

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires liquidation of a debtor’s non-exempt assets, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves rescheduling debts with a repayment plan. The eligibility requirements for the two forms of bankruptcies are also different. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is available to individuals, partnerships, and corporations, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is only available to individuals. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not affected by the number of debts, while there is a limit on the amount of debt a debtor should have while filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

What is Bankruptcy Protection in Arizona?

Bankruptcy protection in Arizona is a court order that protects the filer from foreclosures, repossessions, legal proceedings, judgments, and collection activity. It is an “automatic stay” order. Once the debtor files bankruptcy, the court issues the order to all creditors whose addresses and contact information are provided by the debtor. Creditors are prevented from carrying out any collection action once they receive the order, including telephone calls. Creditors that fail to obey the order may face severe penalties such as:

  • Fines and sanctions for contempt of court
  • Punitive damage awards
  • Attorney fees
  • Court costs

What are Arizona Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Arizona bankruptcy exemptions are assets that a debtor may keep during the liquidation process to repay the trustee. Some states allow debtors to choose between state and federal bankruptcy exemptions. However, Arizona compels all persons filing bankruptcy in the state to choose the state bankruptcy exemptions. Some of the exemptions include:

  • Motor vehicle exemption. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1125. A debtor may protect up to $6,000 in vehicle equity. A disabled person may protect up to $12,000. However, the vehicle equity should be in a single car or truck. A married couple may protect up to $12,000 vehicle equity in one or two vehicles.
  • Homestead exemption. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1101. Arizona bankruptcy exemption law allows up to $150,000 in home equity. Therefore, the trustee may only sell the house to pay the creditors if the debtor owns more than $150,000 of equity in the house. Where this is the case, the trustee would pay $150,000 to the debtor while the rest would be used to repay the creditors. The amount does not increase for couples.
  • Personal property. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1123. Debtors filing bankruptcy may hold on to personal property up to $6,000. Where it is a couple, they may hold on to personal property up to $12,000. These personal property include clothing, furniture, appliances, and electronic devices.
  • Retirement, pensions, and social security are generally exempt. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1126.
  • Wages are exempt up to 75% of disposable income. Arizona Revised Statutes § 33-1131.

What are the Other Types of Bankruptcy in Arizona?

Another type of bankruptcy in Arizona is the Chapter 12 bankruptcy. It is an option for farmers and fishermen with regular annual income to repay all or part of their debts within three to five years. The plan should compulsorily include all of the debtor’s disposable income. A Chapter 12 bankruptcy is less expensive and less complicated than other forms of bankruptcy to suit fishermen and farmers. This form of bankruptcy is open to individuals, partnerships, and corporations engaged in commercial farming or fishing. If the debtor is an individual or a couple, they should satisfy the following conditions:

  • The individual or couple should be engaged in commercial farming or fishing.
  • The debts should not exceed $4,153,150 for a farming operation or $1,924,550 for a fishing operation.
  • At least 50% of a farmer’s debt should be related to the farming operation while at least 80% of a fisherman’s debt should be related to the fishing operation, excluding debt for the debtor’s home.
  • More than 50% of the debtor’s gross income for the previous tax year should have been obtained from the farming or fishing operation.

If the debtor is a partnership or corporation, it should satisfy the following conditions:

  • Over 50% of equity in the corporation or partnership should be owned by one family or one family and its relatives.
  • The family or family and its relatives should be engaged in the farming or fishing operation.
  • More than 80% of the corporate or partnership assets in value should be from the farming or fishing operation.
  • The debt should not exceed $4,153,150 for farming or $1,924,550 for fishing.
  • At least 50% of the debt for a farming operation or at least 80% of the debt for a fishing operation should be as a result of the operation.
  • If the corporation issues stocks to shareholders, it should not be traded publicly.

Besides bankruptcy, there are other options for debt management such as out-of-court agreements with creditors and debt counseling.