Bankruptcy can carry with it a certain stigma, despite how useful it can be in helping people dig themselves out of their financial struggles. And when considering bankruptcy, you might wonder: will other people be able to find out that you filed? Are bankruptcy filings public?
Yes, actually. Most court records, including bankruptcy filings, are public. But, that does not mean that just anyone can access all of your personal information. Typically speaking, your friends, family and acquaintances are not going to find out about your bankruptcy filing unless you tell them yourself. There is a public access system known as PACER that contains information about bankruptcy filings throughout the U.S. But to access this system, you are required to register and pay per page of documents you obtain. As such, the average citizen will not be able to see your bankruptcy filing.
However, your creditors and co-debtors will find out quickly. Once you file for bankruptcy, creditors and co-debtors will receive a direct notice. Major credit bureaus will also be notified of your bankruptcy, and the bankruptcy will show up on your credit report for ten years (though many credit reporting agencies will let the filing fall off your report after seven years.) Because your bankruptcy will show up on your credit reports, any company that is running a credit check on you will find out about your bankruptcy. That means that if you apply for a job, a rental apartment or any kind of credit, whoever you are applying to will be able to see your bankruptcy filing.
Additionally, if you have an ex-spouse who receives child support from you, that spouse will also be notified of your bankruptcy as well as instructions for what to do if you do not continue to pay child support (child support is not dischargeable through bankruptcy).