Bankruptcy Pleadings Overview

Bankruptcy Pleading Basics   

Bankruptcy pleadings are legal documents filed with a federal bankruptcy court to obtain "relief" or permission to take an action under federal law.  Upon filing, the pleadings are listed on the court docket for the debtor company bankruptcy case and "served" or sent to creditors and interested parties involved in the bankruptcy case.

The purpose of sending the filed pleadings is to "put a creditor on notice" of the filing and give them a chance to review and object if necessary.  The filed pleading may affect a claim or business relationship the creditor had or has with the debtor company and by law, creditors must be given a chance to review and respond to pleadings which may affect a claim they have against the debtor company.

If you have received a bankruptcy pleading and are uncertain about how to interpret it, the following information may help you understand, in a general sense, what you received.

General Structure of a Bankruptcy Pleading:

Please select the following sample pleading icon AHM_OCP_Motion.pdf (731 KB) as part of reviewing information about pleadings.

Page 1: Bankruptcy Case Information, Pleading Title, Introduction  

At the top of every pleading is a title for the court in which the bankruptcy is being conducted: "In the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of [___________]"

Below the title of the court is the case caption for the specific bankruptcy case: "In re [Chapter 11 Company], Debtor", Case No. 09-[12345] (Judge's Initials) jointly administered.

Below the case caption is the title of the pleading for which the debtor company is seeking permission to obtain.  Debtors Motion ...

In our sample's case the caption reads: 


Below the title of the motion is the introduction to the pleading.  The introduction reiterates the title of the pleading and requests the relief. 

Below the introduction is the title of the jurisdiction and venue

Page 2-3: Legal Authority Citations, Background of Case, Bankruptcy Request

Below the jurisdiction and the venue section is the background section.  The background section describes the company's facts and circumstances which lead to the filing of the chapter 11 bankruptcy. 

Below the background section is the relief requested section which describes the legal relief that is being requested.     

Main Pages of the Pleading: