Jurisdiction In Other Matters Relating to Bankruptcy Petition
In order for a financial obligation to be dischargeable under federal bankruptcy law, the obligation must be a debt as defined in the bankruptcy code. See 11 U.S.C. 101(4), (11) (1988) (currently codified without substantive amendment at 11 U.S.C. 101(5), (12) (1994)).
A debt which first arises after the filing of the petition for discharge in bankruptcy is not affected by the discharge. See id.; 11 U.S.C. 727(b) (1988) (codified without amendment at 11 U.S.C. 727(b) (1994)); LTV Steel Co. v. Shalala, 53 F.3d 478, 497 (2d Cir. 1995).
A debt which arose pre-petition is dischargeable unless it falls within one of the statutory exceptions to discharge listed in the applicable version of 11 U.S.C. 523(a). See 11 U.S.C. 101(4), (11) (1988); 11 U.S.C. 523(a) (1988); 11 U.S.C. 727(b) (1988); LTV Steel Co., 53 F.3d at 497.
State courts have concurrent jurisdiction with bankruptcy courts to determine whether an obligation was a debt under the bankruptcy code and, if so, whether it arose pre- or post-petition. See Granados v. Granados, 214 B.R. 241, 243-44 (Bankr. E.D. Cal. 1997);
see also 28 U.S.C. 1334(b) (1988) (currently codified without amendment at 28 U.S.C. 1334(b) (1994)) (providing that federal court has original, but not exclusive, jurisdiction over "civil proceedings arising under" the bankruptcy code);
Sanders v. City of Brady, 936 F.2d 212, 218 (5th Cir. 1991) (noting that only aspect of bankruptcy proceeding over which federal district courts and their bankruptcy units have exclusive jurisdiction is bankruptcy petition itself and that state courts have concurrent jurisdiction in all other matters arising in or relating to bankruptcy cases unless bankruptcy code provides otherwise).
State courts also have concurrent jurisdiction to review many, but not all, questions of dischargeability. See 11 U.S.C. 523(a), (c) (1988); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4007, adv. comm. nn., 11 U.S.C. app. (1988).
A defendant in a state court action may plead discharge in bar of the claim, and the state court generally has jurisdiction to determine whether the debt has been discharged. However, the bankruptcy court has exclusive jurisdiction to determine the dischargeability of 523(a) debts listed in 523(c).
See 11 U.S.C. 523(a), (c) (1988); Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4007, adv. comm. nn., 11 U.S.C. app. (1988). Only if the obligation was a pre-petition debt is our jurisdiction limited by 523(c).