Jurisdiction of Bankruptcy Court Set Forth in 28 U.S.C. 1334(a) and (b)
Bankruptcy court has exclusive jurisdiction over the bankruptcy case. 28 U.S.C. 1334(a).
Bankruptcy court has nonexclusive jurisdiction over (1) all civil disputes based on bankruptcy law, (2) all civil disputes based on nonbankruptcy law but arising in a bankruptcy case, and (3) all civil disputes related to a bankruptcy case. A dispute is related to a bankruptcy case if its outcome could have any conceivable effect on a bankruptcy case. In re Fietz, 852 F.2d 455 (9th Cir. 1988). State court has concurrent jurisdiction to hear these issues.
Bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction to hear criminal matters.
Bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction to hear civil matters of a noncommercial nature, such as severance of the marital relationship or child custody (because such matters have no effect per se on the bankruptcy case).
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BEWARE -- If a former spouse files for bankruptcy after the divorce, the creditors look to the other to satisfy those debts. Sometimes the bankruptcy of one spouse sends the other into bankruptcy as well.
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