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The Petition

Learn about the petition, the document that formally commences a bankruptcy case, and how petitions may be either voluntary or involuntary.


In the hit TV comedy The Office, hapless manager Michael Scott finds himself in financial trouble, and his employees advise him to declare bankruptcy. Michael resists at first, but as his financial woes deepen, his resolve wavers. Finally, Michael stands up in his office, spreads his hands, and says with a loud voice and great authority, “I . . . declare . . . bankruptcy!

Michael’s oral declaration was sincere enough. Unfortunately, though, it had no legal effect. To formally declare...