Bankruptcy court records are available to the public. Not only can you see if someone has filed bankruptcy in New Jersey, you can see the actual bankruptcy petition and other documents related to the bankruptcy case. Determining if someone has filed bankruptcy in New Jersey does not require you to visit a New Jersey court. All bankruptcy records, for New Jersey and all other districts, are located online in a centralized website where they can be viewed for a minimal charge.
Bankruptcy in the District of New Jersey
To find out if someone has filed bankruptcy in any state, you can sign up for an account at the government website PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). Enter your name, address and email during the registration process. New Jersey bankruptcy records can be viewed and printed for $0.10 per page (although if a document is more than 30 pages, you will only be billed for 30). PACER bills its accounts quarterly, so you'll receive a bill every three months if you accrue more than $10 in fees. A bill will be mailed to the address used in the registration process if you exceed the $10 threshold. You can also register a credit card with your account, which PACER will automatically bill every quarter for any fees incurred.
Using PACER to Review Bankruptcy Records in NJ
Once you register for a PACER account, you can log in and search for bankruptcy cases in any state in the country. Look to the top of the screen for the “Find a Case” tab, and click it. All federal courts will be listed with clickable links to every court. The middle column is federal district court; the far right column is bankruptcy court. The courts are listed in alphabetical order by state name. To review New Jersey filings, scroll down to "New Jersey - Next Gen" and click on it. This will take you to New Jersey's Electronic Case Filing System (ECF) and allow you to do searches. You'll come to a page welcoming you to NJ bankruptcy ECF with a link; click on the link to enter ECF.
Searching in the New Jersey ECF System
After you click the link from the ECF welcome page, look across the top and select "Query" to begin your search. Enter as much information as possible. The first name, last name and New Jersey county the person filed in will help narrow down the results; if you have a Social Security number, the results will be the most accurate, as sometimes filings are made with misspellings, or a person may have changed her name. You may get more than one result, as more than one person with that name may have filed, or the person may have filed multiple cases. If there is only one entry, the site will take you directly to the record for that case.
Reviewing the Results on NJ Bankruptcy PACER
If the name of the person does not show in the search results, it is likely that he has not filed bankruptcy in New Jersey or has filed outside of New Jersey. If you do find the person you're looking for, click on the results, and then click on "Docket Report." This will show you a list of all the events in the bankruptcy case with links to the documents that have been filed. Each docket report search costs $0.10 per page. Click on the docket number to the left to open the document. Bankruptcy records are stored in PDF format, and you can view, save and print them.
Searches at the Courthouse
You can also go directly to the courthouse to search for bankruptcy records at the clerk's office. There are three bankruptcy court locations in New Jersey: Camden, Trenton and Newark. The court clerk will explain to you how to do a records search.
Living in Denver, Lynndee Marooney has been writing finance and credit-related articles, guides, manuals and e-books for private companies since 1995. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Maryland. She enjoys counseling clients who are experiencing financial difficulties.