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What are North Dakota Bankruptcy Records? 

A bankruptcy case in North Dakota commences when an insolvent debtor (company or business) files a petition with the court to declare bankruptcy due to the inability to pay off debts. A bankruptcy proceeding can be voluntary or involuntary. That is, the debtor can willingly initiate the claim, or the creditors can file the petition on the debtor's behalf.

Debtors usually initiate bankruptcy claims after attempts to set up alternative and informal payment arrangements with the creditors have proven to be unsuccessful. Therefore, through bankruptcy, they seek to create orderly and equitable settlement of debt obligations under the protection of federal law.

As a right provided by the U.S. bankruptcy code, the federal judiciary created bankruptcy courts to address all personal and corporate bankruptcy cases. Hence, instead of the North Dakota state courts, the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of North Dakota hears bankruptcy cases within the state. The records generated in these court proceedings are the official public records of bankruptcy. They contain all the relevant details about the claim, the motions filed, petitions, parties involved, and the court's eventual ruling. Asides from being generated and maintained by the bankruptcy court, these public records are subject to public viewing on request and are also reported by various credit reference companies. Ultimately, interested members of the public may find North Dakota court records pertaining to bankruptcy proceedings, by querying the court which heard the case.

What do North Dakota Bankruptcy Records Contain? 

Bankruptcy records constitute personal and financial information about any entity that filed a bankruptcy claim in North Dakota. Furthermore, the records indicate explicit details regarding how the case was handled and its conclusion. As a result, they contain every file that the debtor submitted to initiate the bankruptcy process. These records usually include:

  • Certificate of credit counseling and other financial management courses
  • A voluntary petition
  • A statement of the debtor's social security number (some of the information may be redacted)
  • A summary of the debtor's assets and liabilities, including real and personal property
  • Information about co-debtors, if any
  • A statement of the debtor's income, expenses, and other financial affairs
  • The debtor's declaration under penalty of perjury
  • Attorney's disclosure of compensation, if the debtor hired an attorney
  • Copies of the debtor's payment stubs or other evidence of payment that the debtor received within 60 days before filing the petition
  • A mailing list of creditors

Court or case information that can be found in a bankruptcy record include:

  • The district and jurisdiction where the bankruptcy claim was recorded
  • Case or file number
  • Filing date
  • Names of all debtors and creditors involved
  • The trustee
  • Bankruptcy case type or chapter
  • Docket information or summary of proceedings.

Mind that while all this information may be included in a bankruptcy record, not all of them are regarded as public information. Therefore, not every part of a record may be subject to public disclosure.

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

When an entity files a bankruptcy claim or petition under state and federal law, every information relinquished during that process becomes public record. Hence, bankruptcy records are general information that is subject to public inspection and even duplication. This information includes bankruptcy records maintained by federal courts and credit reporting agencies.

Bankruptcy records are usually stored in multiple formats, including physical or electronic format. Courts are mandated by law to give members of the public access to them on request. However, although bankruptcy court proceedings and records are open to the public, specific information may be withheld in extraordinary circumstances, such as when the court rules to seal a record. Overall, regardless of the outcome of a case, bankruptcy is a matter of public record, and thereby, public information.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in. 

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How to Get North Dakota Bankruptcy Records

Because federal courts have sole jurisdiction over bankruptcy claims, bankruptcy records in North Dakota are largely generated and maintained by the United States Bankruptcy Court. District of North Dakota. Mostly, these records are available on request from the court clerk's office or via online channels such as PACER.

The bankruptcy clerk's office offers clerical and administrative support to the court. It performs these obligations by filing and storing case-related documents, sending notices to involved parties, and setting court hearings. Additionally, the office responds to requests for bankruptcy records and makes copies of these court files. Therefore, inquirers can visit or contact the bankruptcy clerk's office for available options to acquire physical bankruptcy court records. Under the U.S. District Court, Local Rule 1.5 that governs the use of electronic devices, the clerk's office can also provide copies of electronic bankruptcy documents filed before December 1, 2003, at the cost of $.50 per page.

United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of North Dakota 

Bankruptcy Clerk's Office

Quentin N. Burdick the United States Courthouse

655 1st Avenue North, Suite 210

Fargo, ND 58102

Phone: (701) 297-7100

Inquirers will need working subscriber accounts to use the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). They can conveniently sign up via an online registration process. As a public access channel, PACER permits members of the public to obtain case and docket information generated by various courts under the federal judiciary, including the North Dakota bankruptcy court. Requesters must have details such as case location and case filing number to use PACER effectively. If the interested party does not know where the case is filed, they can use the PACER Case Locator to find that information.

Despite its effectiveness, PACER only provides access to bankruptcy cases filed after December 1, 2003. All electronic bankruptcy court files and documents filed before that time are available for public inspection via the public terminal located at the clerk's office. These documents may also be printed from the terminal at the cost of $0.10 per page.

Additionally, North Dakota bankruptcy judges typically use digital audio recordings to create official court records. These records are kept as Exhibits, Transcripts, and Courtroom Audio. The court favors these formats mostly because creditors and other interested parties in a bankruptcy case may not be at the same location during the proceedings. Maintaining these records saves the court time and monetary resources that may be expended to bring all parties to assemble in the same place. However, these kinds of court records are only available to parties of a case and their lawyers.

Furthermore, individual bankruptcy courts maintain their court case information independently and locally. Hence, inquirers can access bankruptcy records peculiar to the North Dakota bankruptcy court through the court's filing system. Parties interested in this service must create an account before gaining access to the database.

How do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in North Dakota? 

Closing a bankruptcy case implies that the bankruptcy court has completed all activities related to the case. That is, the court has ruled on all motions, and the assigned trustee has fulfilled all necessary duties. While this may seem like a definite win for the debtor, closing a case does not mean that the court issued a debt discharge order.

Per the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, the court must notify the debtor or the debtor's attorney directly. If there is any delay in notification, the concerned entity can contact the court directly or check with the attorney. They can also use the Automated Case Information System to obtain basic court case information such as case status. Inquirers should simply dial (866) 222-8029 from a touch telephone and follow the operator's instructions to listen to the information.

Also, because the credit reporting agencies are authorized to report public bankruptcy proceedings, entities in a bankruptcy case can confirm their case status by obtaining a copy of their credit report.

Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in North Dakota?

To expunge a bankruptcy record is to destroy the court files associated with the bankruptcy case or seal it from state and federal public records. Under normal circumstances, bankruptcy records are not eligible for expungement. The expungement process is complicated and is only granted under extraordinary circumstances.

If the presiding court judge does not deem an expungement or non-disclosure order necessary in a bankruptcy case, the record will remain open to the public. However, in some cases, entities in a bankruptcy case can petition the bankruptcy court to expunge or seal all or part of their bankruptcy records. This is common in cases of involuntary bankruptcy claims. 

Involuntary bankruptcy cases are proceedings initiated by creditors rather than the debtors. Here, the creditor petitions the court on the debtor's behalf and requests that the person or business be declared bankrupt. This typically occurs when the creditor thinks that they will not recover debts. Therefore, a debtor can file a motion in the court to expunge the bankruptcy record if able to render convincing evidence that proves that the creditor filed the bankruptcy claim fraudulently.

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