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Texas Court Records

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What are Texas Bankruptcy Records?

Texas bankruptcy records are legal documents that contain information about individuals who are unable to repay outstanding debts. Covered by federal law, bankruptcy records help affected individuals start anew by generating a repayment plan or liquidating assets for debt servicing. According to the U.S Department of Justice, bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts as per the U.S bankruptcy code. Bankruptcy files contain details such as income sources, assets, real estate, and a list of creditors.

Aside from Chapter 9, Chapter 12, Chapter 13, and Chapter 15, the two most popular types of bankruptcy in the state of Texas are Chapter 7 and Chapter 11. Chapter 11 involves persons or companies that get to temporarily reduce or suspend payments to creditors, while Chapter 7 regards startup businesses having to liquidate debt because of an inability to pay off existing debts.

The Texas bankruptcy court system is divided into four districts: northern, southern, western, and eastern. Bankruptcy records are public and can be accessed electronically through the Public Access Electronic Records, or PACER, system for a small fee. Interested parties can also visit the court involved or order by mail. A bankruptcy case number is required to complete the search process and can be obtained from the bankruptcy district court involved. Although bankruptcy records are accessible to the public, third-party websites such as Texas.CourtRecords.us may not serve as a means to obtain bankruptcy documents.

What do Texas Bankruptcy Records Contain?

Texas bankruptcy records contain vital information about the financial standing and other details of the person or company involved. Information contained in a bankruptcy record include:

  • Sources of income
  • Gross income
  • Assets of the individual involved include stocks, bank accounts, properties, businesses owned, or companies invested
  • A list containing employees owed, such as a final paycheck if applicable
  • A detailed list of creditors along with the individual's addresses and the amount owed to each creditor

Creditors are categorized as either secured and unsecured. The secured creditors are a top priority to get paid because the borrowing process was backed by collateral. Unsecured creditors do not request for collateral when the money was borrowed. Examples of secured creditors are tax agencies and banks that may have received a deed of trust to secure a mortgage loan.

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

Bankruptcy records are public records within the jurisdiction of Texas. However, there are restrictions to specific sections such as Bankruptcy Form B-21, due to the form containing details such as the party's social security number. Some other vital information in a bankruptcy record may also be censored to protect a person's identity to a certain degree and shield sensitive 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 a 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 Texas Bankruptcy Records

The processes of acquiring bankruptcy records across the four judicial districts (northern, eastern, western and southern) in Texas are similar.

PACER is an electronic public access service that allows members of the public to access information on bankruptcy records from the courts and the PACER case locator. The site charges a fee of $.10 per page, and interested persons are required to register to obtain bankruptcy case information.

Voice Case Information System (VCIS) allows interested individuals to call the Bankruptcy Court and get information about a particular bankruptcy case. The data obtained from the court's repository is up to date. This service is available at all times for free. A search for a bankruptcy record can be conducted using the case number and the debtor's name. Information provided in the search result includes the case status, the presiding judge, availability of assets, debtor's attorney's name, and number. Each district has a different number to call.

Requests for information or physical copies of bankruptcy records can be made in writing and mailed along with the exact fee for each copy requested. The charges can be paid through checks and money orders to the Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The appropriate request form to be completed when searching for just case information is the BTXN128 - Bankruptcy Case Information Search Request Form. The form to request for the bankruptcy records of an individual or business is BTXN 089 - Application for Search of Bankruptcy Records. However, to retrieve copies of bankruptcy records, complete the BTXN 085 - Request for Copies form. Certified copies can be obtained by completing the BTXN 212 - Request for Certified Copies form and submitting it at the district office.

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

As most cases have different circumstances, the time a bankruptcy case is closed may not be recorded. However, Chapter 7 cases without assets involved close within 90 days of filing without disputes, while those with assets need the trustees to liquidate the assets, which may take time. For Chapter 11 cases, they are complicated and sometimes remain open for more than three years. Chapter 13 cases stay open even after plan payments have been made. To know the current status of a bankruptcy case in Texas, call the District's Voice Case Information System (VCIS) or contact the clerk's office of the specific District Court where the bankruptcy case was filed.

Can a Bankruptcy be Expunged in Texas?

Texas's record laws have no bearing on bankruptcies because the federal court system handles bankruptcy cases, and there's no provision of expungement in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. However, bankruptcy documents can be sealed under court order by:

  • Removing the debtor's name off the court records so when a search is run using the debtor's name, no case pops up
  • Leaving a statement in the bankruptcy record stating that the bankruptcy petition was filed fraudulently
  • Declaring the bankruptcy null and void, which means when the record comes up, there's a judge's statement for it to be disregarded

To seal a bankruptcy record in Texas, submit a written motion to seal along with other necessary documents to the court. The proposal to seal should state the reason why the documents should be withheld from public access, describe the exact part of the record to be sealed (if it's the full record, state it as well), and request that the file should be sealed pending approval from the court.

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