Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy


Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is a legal process in the U.S. that allows businesses, including corporations and sole proprietorships, to restructure their debts while continuing operations. The debtor, with court approval, has the autonomy to propose a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. It is the most complex and potentially expensive form of bankruptcy and is typically chosen by businesses that need time to restructure their debts.


Chapter 11 Bankruptcy: /ˈtʃaptər ɪˈlɛvən bæŋkˈrʌptsi/

Key Takeaways

  1. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, often known as reorganization bankruptcy, is primarily designed for businesses struggling with heavy debt but can also be used by individuals. It allows them to keep their assets and continue operating while they restructure their debts and pay off creditors under a plan approved by the bankruptcy court.
  2. Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can be a complex and expensive process, often lasting for several years. Therefore, before filing, businesses or individuals should consider alternatives such as debt settlement or negotiation with creditors.
  3. Despite the challenges, Chapter 11 Bankruptcy can offer a lifeline for struggling businesses, allowing them to reset their financial circumstances while continuing to operate, ultimately offering them a path forward without the overwhelming burden of debt.


Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is an important business/finance term because it refers to a legal process that allows a business to reorganize and restructure its debts while continuing its operations. In essence, it provides an opportunity for companies in financial distress to preserve the business while protecting it from creditors’ immediate demands. This bankruptcy-type is thus crucial as it enables businesses to stay afloat, repay their debts under a court-approved plan, and potentially recover from a financial crisis. This process could also potentially save jobs, allowing for the continuity of the business. It’s especially relevant for larger corporations, yet smaller companies may choose this path too, aiming for financial restructuring and revival.


Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is primarily utilized by businesses as a means to restructure their debts and obligations that they are unable to meet, maintaining their operations at the same time. It is a measure that provides breathing space to the struggling entities and aids them in balancing their income and expenses while restoring profitability. Instead of liquidating the entity, as with Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Chapter 11 focuses on rehabilitation or reorganization, thus preserving jobs and potentially saving the business from complete dissolution.

The purpose of Chapter 11 bankruptcy is to allow the business to continue operating under the supervision and jurisdiction of the court while it devises a debt repayment plan. This plan, which is subject to the approval of the court and creditors, outlines how the debtor will reorganize operations and reduce costs to help it pay back its creditors over a period. The debtor’s assets are evaluated, and non-essential assets may sometimes be sold to generate repayment funds. Chapter 11 bankruptcy enables businesses to reshape themselves into profitable models, offering a fresh start without the burden of overwhelming debts.


1. General Motors: One of the most notable instances of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy was General Motors in 2009. This American automobile giant filed for bankruptcy after the 2008 financial crisis, aiming to reduce its debts and reorganize its operations. With support from the U.S. government, GM was able to successfully restructure and emerge from bankruptcy in a relatively short period of time.

2. American Airlines: The airline industry has seen a few examples of Chapter 11 reorganization. American Airlines filed for bankruptcy in 2011, citing high fuel costs and labor disputes. Through the bankruptcy process, American Airlines was able to reduce its debts and streamline its operations, eventually merging with US Airways and emerging from bankruptcy as a more profitable company.

3. Toys “R” Us: The iconic toy retailer announced its bankruptcy in 2017 due to overwhelming debt and competition from online retailers. Despite its initial hopes to restructure and emerge from Chapter 11, Toys “R” Us ended up liquidating its assets and closing all its stores, showing that Chapter 11 reorganization doesn’t always lead to a company’s revival.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 is a section of the U.S. bankruptcy law that allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals unable to meet their financial obligations to restructure and reorganize their debts while remaining in control of their operations.

Who can file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

Any commercial entity – be it a corporation, sole proprietorship, or partnership, as well as individuals- can file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy if they are unable to pay their debts.

How is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy different from other types of bankruptcy?

Unlike Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, Chapter 11 allows the debtor to remain in control of their business operations while they work on a plan to repay creditors. This is often referred to as a debtor-in-possession setup.

What happens after a company files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy?

After filing, the company gets immediate protection from its creditors, stops all foreclosure proceedings, collection actions, and potential lawsuits against the company. The company then formulates and proposes a repayment plan, detailing how each class of claims will be treated, which is sent to the creditors for approval.

Is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy expensive?

Yes, Chapter 11 is often more costly and complex than other bankruptcy options. The costs include filing fees, attorney fees, distribution charges, the trustee’s expenses, and general administrative costs.

Does filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy mean the company is going out of business?

No, filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is often a strategy to stay in business. It allows the business to restructure and reduce its debts, renegotiate labor contracts, leases, licenses while continuing its operations.

How does a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy impact business owners?

For sole proprietors, their personal and business assets are at risk. For individuals involved in partnerships, they could be held personally responsible for business debts. Shareholders may retain their shares and the company can continue to operate but they may lose all or a significant portion of their investment in the bankrupt company.

How long does a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy process typically last?

The process can vary, but it typically takes several months to a few years. The complexity and size of the business, the level of agreement among creditors, and the court’s caseload can all affect the timeframe.

Related Finance Terms

  • Debtor in Possession
  • Bankruptcy Trustee
  • Reorganization Plan
  • Bankruptcy Estate
  • Creditors Committee

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More