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New York Bankruptcy Records

Bankruptcy in New York

In New York, bankruptcy records are a collection of documents relevant to a bankruptcy case. Bankruptcy records typically include the bankruptcy claim, dates, names, and monetary amounts owed. Bankruptcy exists to give debtors a chance to pay back creditors and erase certain debts. Certain types of bankruptcy involve liquidation of property to use as debt repayment, while others help debtors create a repayment plan.

How It Works

The Southern District Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District Bankruptcy Court, Northern District Bankruptcy Court, and Western District Bankruptcy Court are the bankruptcy courts that generate and produce bankruptcy records. The southern district bankruptcy court serves the counties of the Bronx, Dutchess, New York, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Westchester, Greene, and Ulster. The courthouses are located in Manhattan, Poughkeepsie, and White Plains. The eastern district court deals with cases from Richmond, Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk, with the court locations in Brooklyn and Central Islip. The northern district serves 32 counties, with locations in Albany, Utica, and Syracuse. The Western District of New York services Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Chemung, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Wyoming, and Yates. There are locations in Buffalo and Rochester.

The Case Management/Electronic Case Filing System (NextGen CM/ECF) maintains electronic records. The system enables court filings to be done online and serves as a database for pleadings, petitions, and motions. Bankruptcy records are public records, so parties who wish to obtain these records can use PACER or third-party websites.

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

The New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) positions bankruptcy records as public information accessible by individual citizens. Unless the case has been sealed or entirely expunged, members of the public can view and obtain copies of bankruptcy records. Parties can receive a spoken summary of a bankruptcy case by telephone or get physical copies through the PACER platform online or the court clerk. The court clerk can also provide parties with certified copies of bankruptcy records, although the process may take longer and be more expensive.

Record seekers may also 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. 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

What Do New York Bankruptcy Records Contain?

Bankruptcy records consist of all relevant filings, documents, transcripts, forms, and actions taken in a bankruptcy case. The information can include:

  • Debtor’s name
  • Judge’s name
  • The date that the debtor filed the claim
  • The filing form from the debtor
  • All petitions and motions
  • The type of bankruptcy claimed
  • Attorney and trustee details
  • Discharge details
  • All assets
  • Case number
  • The status of the case

How to Get New York Bankruptcy Records

All members of the public can access copies of bankruptcy records online or in person. Records are available online through the federal PACER system. PACER allows individuals to search the specific court where the filing occurred or by the national index of federal court cases. Parties who obtain information through these searches can view and print copies, but certified copies are not available through PACER. PACER also offers a court opinions search and a resource to access records by phone at (866) 222-8029.

Individuals who wish to have physical copies of bankruptcy records can visit the bankruptcy court office where the debtor claimed bankruptcy or mail a request. The courts include Southern District Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District Bankruptcy Court, Northern District Bankruptcy Court, and Western District Bankruptcy Court, and each court has an office in each county. Parties can visit the appropriate office and inquire with the clerk. Certain locations may have specific forms for requesting bankruptcy records, while others may not.

The court clerk can also offer certified bankruptcy records. A form is typically given for a certification request and must comprise:

  • Case number
  • Debtor’s information
  • Document docket numbers
  • Telephone numbers of the debtor

If requesting by mail, parties should contact the court about local fees. To request a document’s certification, the fee is $11.00. If requested in person, the per-page cost is $0.10, while a written and mailed request is $0.50 per page.

If a court location does not hold a record, it may be maintained by the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA). On the NARA website, parties have the option to order:

  • Entire case files of an individual for $90.00;
  • Preselected documents for $35.00;
  • Docket sheets for case outline for $35.00.

The charge for certification is $15.00.

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

New York bankruptcy cases are closed when the debtor has repaid all debts to creditors. When the debtor has taken all measures to eliminate the debt, the court will decide to close the case. If an individual wants to figure out if their case has been closed, a simple way to find out is using the PACER phone records access number or contacting the court clerk’s office.

Can a Bankruptcy Be Expunged in New York?

Under New York state law, parties cannot expunge records. Instead, the court can seal them. Expungement is an action the court takes to completely erase a claim and remove it from a party’s record while sealing makes the records inaccessible by members of the public. Sealing can be requested by individuals or decided by the court. The court may decide to seal a record if it comprises materials or information that could threaten the subject’s safety or reputation.

Filing for Bankruptcy in New York?

Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding that allows an individual or business to considerably reduce or totally eliminate debt using varying methods. Depending on the type of bankruptcy filed, a debtor could liquidate most assets and properties and use the returns from the sales to satisfy creditors. In other cases, bankruptcy involves restructuring a business to repay some or all debts over time by creating a repayment plan agreeable to creditors.

The state of New York has no authority over bankruptcy cases. Related matters are heard at federal courts that have exclusive subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy petitions. There are four federal bankruptcy courts in New York that exercise authority over bankruptcy cases in their respective jurisdictions. They include:

New York debtors may submit bankruptcy filings to any of the above courts. Petitions generally contain the following information:

  • List of creditors
  • Types and value of debts
  • Bank account statements
  • Retirement account statements
  • Recent paycheck stubs
  • Tax returns
  • Investment account statements
  • Government-issued identification, such as a social security card or driver’s license
  • Credit card and other billing statements
  • Real estate fair market value
  • Mortgage statements

Can a Bankruptcy Filing Be Dismissed in New York?

Filing for bankruptcy does not automatically mean that debtors can liquidate assets or reorganize their debts. In some cases, New York bankruptcy courts may dismiss petitions for several reasons. Some of them include:

  • Bad faith on the debtor’s part. The court may conclude that the debtor only filed for bankruptcy to exploit the automatic stay or another part of the bankruptcy process
  • Impractical budgeting
  • Failure to submit all required forms
  • Failure to pay filing fees
  • Absence from Meeting of Creditors
  • Failure to submit a complete list of creditors

In addition to the above, New York bankruptcy cases may be dismissed due to an adversary proceeding. Although linked to the initial case, an adversary proceeding is a separate filing used to counter an issue originating from the bankruptcy petition. An adversity proceeding that contends with one or more issues of the case could end in a complete dismissal if the court evaluates the case and finds cause.

The option of an adversary proceeding is also available to debtors and trustees. A trustee can file an objection to an issue in the same way that a creditor would. On the other hand, a debtor could initiate an adversary proceeding to seek specific relief on a particular issue. Persons cannot file any type of bankruptcy if a previous filing was discharged in the last 180 days for any of the following reasons:

  • The debtor willfully failed to appear in court or comply with a court order
  • The court voluntarily dismissed the petition after the creditor asked the court for relief to recover property where they hold liens
  • The court found that the petition was duplicitous
  • The petition was an abuse of the bankruptcy system

Also, bankruptcy law states that within 180 days before a bankruptcy filing, the debtor must receive credit counseling from an approved credit counseling agency.

What are New York Bankruptcy Records?

New York bankruptcy records are official records that contain details of bankruptcy proceedings. These records provide financial and personal details of the case, including the court docket and information on debtors and creditors. Bankruptcy records could be court documents, audio records, reports, and transcripts of each hearing. New York bankruptcy courts are required to create records of bankruptcy proceedings from start to finish. 11 U.S.C. § 107 states that all bankruptcy records, including papers and dockets, should be available to members of the general public and should be free to examine at reasonable times.

Although most records are public, New York bankruptcy courts may restrict access to sensitive information or details that could be exploited for identity theft. The courts also do not release any details that may cause injury to a person or property. Furthermore, any party of interest may ask the relevant court to exempt some of the following information:

  • Confidential or sensitive development or research
  • Trade secrets
  • Commercial information
  • Any information that would unduly breach a person’s privacy

Regardless of these restrictions, law enforcement agencies, including the police and governmental regulatory bodies, may obtain confidential information on bankruptcy cases by filing ex parte applications demonstrating cause. According to the law on public access to Bankruptcy records, each case’s trustee, bankruptcy administrator, US trustee, and certain auditors may receive full access to all information submitted to bankruptcy courts.

How to Find New York Bankruptcy Records?

Anyone seeking New York bankruptcy records may request online, in person, by mail, or via phone, using the following methods:

  • Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) System - Online
  • Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVIS) - Telephone
  • Mail Requests
  • In-Person Requests
  • National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) Requests

PACER

PACER is the federal judiciary’s online record system, which provides access to all non-confidential New York bankruptcy records. All persons may request bankruptcy records by completing the PACER registration form. PACER allows requesters to find desired information by selecting a particular federal court or searching a nationwide index.

According to the PACER fee schedule, access to the platform costs 10 cents per page. PACER also charges $3 for a single document, not more than 30 pages, with applicable per-page fees for extra pages. This fee applies even if the search does not yield a match.

PACER also provides access to audio files and transcripts. Transcripts cost 10 cents per page, while audio files cost $2.40 per file. However, the system waives fees for requesters who do not accrue charges over $30 in a quarter. Judicial opinions are accessible free of charge. All parties and attorneys to a case may receive one free electronic copy. Courts may also grant free access to certain requestors who apply for a fee waiver. Examples include non-profit organizations, researchers associated with educational institutions, trustees, pro bono attorneys, and indigents.

McVIS

All interested persons may obtain New York bankruptcy records via phone through the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVIS). The McVIS is a 24-hour phone service that uses a synthetic voice to feed users with live information from each court’s database. Users can obtain information by calling the system’s toll-free number at (866) 222-8029. Intending requestors should note that details accessible via the McVIS may be limited to the following:

  • Names of debtors
  • Names of other principal adversaries
  • Name and phone number of the debtor’s attorney
  • Case number, filing date, and chapter
  • Case status
  • Name of trustee
  • Dates of closure and discharge
  • Judge’s name
  • Date of first Meeting of Creditors
  • Deadline to file proof of claim
  • Assets subject to liquidation or reorganization

In-Person and Mail Requests

Requestors may submit mail or in-person requests to the Clerk of Court at each location. Requirements for in-person requests may vary by location. For example, the Rochester branch of the Western District bankruptcy court restricts payment to money orders and certified checks. In Buffalo, cash payments are only acceptable from requestors who have the exact change. Interested persons may contact the respective locations for specific information regarding costs and payment methods.

Requestors may visit each Clerk of Court or send mail applications. Each request must contain all known case details, including names, dates, and other case specifics. Interested persons may contact New York bankruptcy courts using the following details:

United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of New York
Brooklyn Office
Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Courthouse
271-C Cadman Plaza East
Suite 1595
Brooklyn, NY 11201-1800
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday
Phone: (347) 394-1700 (Extension 6 for Help Desk)

Central Islip Office
Alfonse M. D’Amato U.S. Courthouse
290 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, NY 11722
Hours: 9:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday
Phone: (347) 712-6200(Extension 6 for Help Desk)

United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of New York
Buffalo Office
Robert H. Jackson U.S. Courthouse
2 Niagara Square
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: (716) 362-3200
Hours: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday

Rochester Office
100 State Street
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: (585) 613-4200
Hours: 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, Monday to Friday

Mayville Office (Unstaffed)
Gerace Office Building
Legislative Chambers
3rd Floor Courtroom
North Erie Street
Mayville, NY 14757

Olean Office (Unstaffed)
Cattaraugus County Courthouse
1 Leo Moss Drive
Olean, NY 14760

United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of New York
Albany Office
James T. Foley U.S. Courthouse
445 Broadway
Suite 330
Albany, NY 12207
Phone: (518) 257-1661

Utica Office
Alexander Pirnie U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building
10 Broad Street
Utica, NY 13501
Phone: (315) 793-8101
Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday

Syracuse Office
James M. Hanley U.S. Courthouse and Federal Building
100 South Clinton Street
Syracuse, NY 13261
Phone: (315) 295-1600
Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, Monday to Friday

United States Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York
Manhattan Office
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004-1408
Phone: (212) 668-2870
Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday

Poughkeepsie Office
355 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601-3315
Phone: (845) 452-4200
Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday

White Plains Office
300 Quarropas Street
Room 147
White Plains, NY 10601
Hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday to Friday
Hours: (914) 467-7250

National Archive and Records Administration (NARA) Requests

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) maintains bankruptcy records that are either closed or recorded before December 1, 2003. Although individual courts maintain most bankruptcy case files for 15 years, NARA may also hold records older than 15 years but filed on or after December 1, 2003.

Persons requesting records held by NARA must first confirm which NARA Federal Records Center (FRC) stores the files. For instance, the Central Plains Region facility houses most of the Southern District’s closed case files. Requestors may contact the applicable court for specifics on the relevant FRC. Details required to request NARA records include the following:

  • Location number
  • Box number
  • Transfer (accession) number
  • Case name
  • Case number

Persons seeking archived records must pay an archive retrieval fee to the court. The first box costs $64, while each additional box costs $39. Persons seeking other records can directly contact NARA after obtaining the details listed above. NARA provides an option for online requests which require user registration.

Parties may also send mail requests by submitting a completed NATF Form 90 for each desired file. Pre-selected documents cost $35 and $50, for uncertified and certified copies, respectively. Uncertified entire case files cost $90 (maximum of 150 pages), while uncertified docket sheets cost $35. Certified entire case files cost $105 for up to 150 pages, and $15 for each additional part, also up to 150 pages. Certified docker sheets cost $50. Checks and money orders for mail requests should be payable to “National Archives Trust Fund (NATF).”

What is the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy in New York?

A bankruptcy filing could be detrimental to the debtor’s financial future as there are costs to obtaining this relief. The following are disadvantages of bankruptcy filings:

  • Negative impact on credit score
  • Loss of assets or property
  • Denied access to credit cards as credit card companies sometimes automatically cancel issued cards
  • Loss of access to tax refunds
  • Difficulty obtaining a loan or mortgage
  • Non-dischargeable debts that cannot be dissolved by filing for bankruptcy
  • Difficulty securing employment or accommodation
  • High interest rates

However, bankruptcy filings offer some advantages to debtors. Some of these include:

  • An automatic stay on all creditors’ efforts to retrieve debts
  • Debt discharge
  • Bankruptcy exemptions that allow debtors to keep some property

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in New York?

Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings give New York businesses the chance to reorganize their debts without shutting down their operations. Although mostly filed by businesses and corporate bodies, individuals may also file Chapter 11 bankruptcy if their debt specifics do not meet the requirements for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type of bankruptcy filing allows the businesses to create a repayment plan with creditors to spread debt discharge over time. Filing for Chapter 11 allows debtors to satisfy their creditors while restructuring their operations for better financial standing.

Fulfilling the terms of a repayment plan under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is not specified by bankruptcy law. As such, the process may be completed within six months or take up to two years. The specific time frame varies depending on specifics such as the number of creditors, amount and nature of debt, and the creditor’s approval of the debt repayment structure. Under Chapter 11, creditors may also suggest repayment plans if they disagree with the debtor’s proposal.

Unless a court determines otherwise, all debtors filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy must provide the court with the following:

  • All current income and expenditure
  • A statement of the debtor’s financial affairs
  • A statement listing all assets and liabilities
  • A schedule of unexpired leases and executory contracts

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in New York?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows debtors to pay off their debts by liquidating their assets. Debtors who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy essentially turn over assets and property to the courts to conduct and supervise the sale. Funds received from the exercise are then used to pay creditors.

Petitioners can not discharge all debts by filing for bankruptcy. Both Chapter 11 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings still require the debtors to maintain certain expenses. Some of these include:

  • Personal injury debts
  • Alimony
  • Student loans
  • Taxes
  • Child support

To qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor must take a means test to assess financials. The mean test evaluates all debt, income, and expenses to determine what the debtor’s disposable income is in relation to New York’s median income. As of 2019, New York’s median household income was $72,108, nearly 10% higher than the $65,712 recorded for the United States. In the same year, only 27% of the New York population earned between $50,000 and $100,000. Although persons who earn the median income are less likely to qualify, eligibility may not be automatic for persons with low disposable income.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in New York?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy, also called a wage earner’s plan, allows individuals to create a repayment plan for a part or all their debts. This type of bankruptcy is restricted to persons with regular income and works with a repayment that may last between three and five years. The exact time duration depends on the amount of debt and the debtor’s income. If the debtor’s monthly income is higher than the New York state median, the repayment plan may last up to five years. If the income is lower, the repayment may only last more than three years if the court finds cause for an extension. However, according to 11 U.S.C. § 1322(d), the court must not approve a repayment plan longer than five years. There are specific debt amounts that determine Chapter 13 eligibility. The 2021 Chapter 13 eligibility limit specifies a maximum of $419,275 and $1,257,850 for unsecured and secured debts, respectively.

What is the Difference Between a Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in New York?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing allows the debtor to create a repayment plan for incurred debts. Under this type, the debtor and creditors must agree to a viable plan that enables the creditor to recoup losses. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is different in this regard as it quickly liquidates debt and uses proceeds to satisfy creditors. The timeframe for resolving both types of bankruptcy differs. A Chapter 13 filing may last three to five years, with the exact length dependent on factors such as debt volume and nature. Since Chapter 7 bankruptcy requires immediate liquidation of assets, proceedings may be resolved within six months. Chapter 13 eligibility is measured according to the amount of secured or unsecured debt. Persons with secured debt over $1,257,850 or unsecured debt more than $419,275 cannot use the Chapter 13 procedure. On the other hand, eligibility for Chapter 7 is determined by a means test instead of a debt limit.

What is Bankruptcy Protection in New York?

Bankruptcy protection in New York protects debtors from creditors’ efforts to recover debt during the proceeding. Immediately a debtor files for any type of bankruptcy, an “automatic stay” on debt retrieval is enforced. This means that all creditors must suspend any debt collection actions until further notice. Bankruptcy protection prevents debtors from:

  • Wage garnishment
  • Eviction
  • Foreclosure

However, there are some actions not immune to the court’s automatic stay. Some of these include tax proceedings, child support payments, pension loan payments, and alimony.

What are New York Bankruptcy Exemptions?

New York bankruptcy exemptions allow debtors to keep some assets, cash, or property during the bankruptcy proceeding. New York debtors must use state or federal exemptions and cannot combine both. Exemptions available to New York residents include:

Homestead Exemption

New York debtors can keep the equity on their homes, condos, cooperative apartments, or mobile homes. According to N.Y. Civil Practice Law § 5206(a), debtors can maintain equity up to $150,000 in any of the following counties:

  • Kings
  • Richmond
  • Bronx
  • Suffolk
  • Nassau
  • New York
  • Rockland
  • Putnam
  • Westchester

This limit reduces to $125,000 for the following counties:

  • Orange
  • Columbia
  • Dutchess
  • Ulster
  • Albany
  • Saratoga

All other countries can use the homestead exemption up to a maximum of $75,000 maximum.

Wildcard Exemption

Debtors can protect up to $1,000 in cash, a bank account, or personal property. However, this exemption only applies if the debtor does not claim the homestead exemption.

Personal Property Exemption

New York allows exemptions for several personal properties with varying monetary limits, according to N.Y. Civil Practice Law § 5205(a)(1-9). Applicable items include furniture, jewelry, books, tools of trade, health aid, wedding rings, clothes, tableware, and several other household items. However, the aggregate value of all assets maintained under the personal property exemption should not be more than $10,000. Furthermore, this exemption is also only available to debtors who do not use the homestead exemption.

Cash Exemption

This covers bank accounts, cash, tax refunds, and saving bonds up to $5,000. Just like the wildcard option, debtors who claim the homestead exemption cannot use the cash exemption. Furthermore, the court may reduce the allowed amount if the debtor also claims more than $5,000 of the personal property exemption, or claims any other exemption that covers an annuity purchased not more than 6 months earlier.

Motor Vehicle Exemption

New York debtors can maintain ownership of one motor vehicle up to a $4,000 limit. However, this limit increases to $10,000 if the motor vehicle has been equipped for use by a disabled debtor.

Pension and Retirement Benefits Exemption

This exemption applies to all payments under a profit-sharing, pension, or stock bonus plan.

Cemetery Exemption

This covers all land set apart as a burial ground if the following conditions are met:

  • A portion of the land was used for burial purposes
  • The land does not contain any building or structure except vaults for corpses or mortuary monuments
  • The land is not larger than one-fourth of an acre

Other exemptions include personal injury payments, wages and income, and payments received under a divorce proceeding (including child support or alimony),