STOP & READ ALL THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE BEFORE YOU FILE A PETITION OR YOUR CASE MAY BE DISMISSED
Bankruptcy law is complicated and not easily described. You may wish to seek the advice of an attorney to learn of your rights and responsibilities should you decide to file a petition. Court employees cannot give you legal advice.
- Credit Counseling Requirement and Photo Identification Requirement
- Deciding What Chapter to File Under
- Required Forms For Filing
- Filing Fees and Waiver or Installment Payment Options
- Use of Bankruptcy Petition Preparers
- Notices From The Court About Papers Required To Be Filed
- Information About Means Testing
- Requirement To Complete Financial Management Course To Receive A Discharge Of Your Debts
- Requirements For Providing Tax Return Information
- Providing Information About Your Creditors To The Court
- Reaffirmation Agreement
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a) YOU MUST COMPLETE A CREDIT COUNSELING COURSE BEFORE YOU FILE A PETITION WITH THE COURT. Read this important warning notice (Spanish) (Creole) about the consumer credit counseling course you must complete BEFORE you file your petition. For a list of approved providers of this consumer credit counseling course, you can go to the US Trustee web site. US Trustee List of Approved Credit Counselors.
b) If you are filing without an attorney, you must present photo id when filing your petition. See this notice for information about photo id requirement: PHOTO ID REQUIREMENT NOTICE.
For general information about the different chapters you can file bankruptcy under:
a) Read the “Notice to Individual Consumer Debtor Under Section 342(b) of the Bankruptcy Code”. This notice describes briefly (1) the services available from credit counseling agencies; (2) the purposes, benefits and costs of the four types of bankruptcy proceedings you may file; and (3) informs you about bankruptcy crimes and notifies you that the Attorney General may examine all information you supply in connection with a bankruptcy case.
b) In addition, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has published, Bankruptcy Basics – AO Publication, to provide an overview of the bankruptcy process and a description of the types of bankruptcy chapters.
c) Additional information for debtors filing under chapter 13. Depending on which division your case is assigned to, you will be assigned one of the two chapter 13 standing trustees in this district. Below are links to the clerk’s Chapter 13 “Notice to Debtor”, and each chapter 13 trustee’s web site and guidelines.
a) The Clerk’s Filing Instructions lists each chapter of bankruptcy and every form you need to file for that chapter and other important filing information.
a) The Clerk’s Fee Schedule lists the filing fees for each chapter
b) Chapter 7 Fee Waiver – information about fee waivers for individual chapter 7 debtors
c) Paying Filing Fee In Installments – information about individuals paying filing fee in installments
Petition preparers are barred by law from providing legal advice — they cannot explain or answer legal questions or assist in bankruptcy court. Petition preparers must sign all documents they prepare; print their name, address, and social security number on such documents; and furnish copies to the debtor. They cannot sign a document on the debtor’s behalf or receive payment from the debtor for court fees.
Bankruptcy Petition preparers are required to provide you with the Official Bankruptcy Form 119, “Bankruptcy Petition Preparer’s Notice, Declaration and Signature”.
You must file all papers required for the chapter under which you filed bankruptcy by the deadlines set by law. When you file your petition and other papers required, the clerk’s office will review them and send you a notice of any papers you did not file and are required to file you do not have an attorney and you think you have filed all required documents, do not ignore the notice, contact the clerk’s office to review with the clerk’s office what documents appear to be missing. If you do not respond by the deadline in the notice, your case will be dismissed.
Most individual debtors filing for bankruptcy relief are required to complete one or more of the following Official Bankruptcy Forms. The US Trustee has established a website which contains resources for completing these forms, including Census Bureau, IRS Data and Administrative Expenses Multipliers [US Trustee Program – Means Testing Information].
- Chapter 7 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income [Form 122A-1 is required for ALL individual chapter 7 debtors]
- Chapter 7 Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse Under 707(b)(2) [Form 122A-1 Supp]
- Chapter 7 Means Test Calculation [Form 122A-2]
- Chapter 11 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income [Form 122B is required for ALL individual chapter 11 debtors]
- Chapter 13 Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period [Form 122C-1 is required for ALL individual chapter 13 debtors]
- Chapter 13 Calculation of Your Disposable Income [Form 122C-2]
After filing bankruptcy and before a discharge is issued, individual chapter 7 and 13 debtors must complete a course in financial management. The following links provide information and forms needed to meet this requirement:
Notice of Requirement of Chapter 7 & 13 Debtors to Submit Official Bankruptcy Form 423 – Certification of Completion of Instructional Course
Under the Bankruptcy Code and rules or order of the court, the debtor, in some instances may be required to either provide copies of tax returns to the trustee, creditors or file them with the court. The following links provide information about providing tax returns to trustees or creditors.
Service information about creditors you listed on your schedules must be provided in the form of a service matrix so that notices can be served. See the Clerk’s Instructions for Preparing, Submitting and Obtaining Service Matrices.
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement between a chapter 7 debtor and a creditor that the debtor will pay all or a portion of the money owed, even though the debtor has filed bankruptcy. In return, the creditor promises that, as long as payments are made, the creditor will not repossess or take back its collateral. This means that the debtor will remain personally liable on that debt. See also Bankruptcy Basics – The Chapter 7 Discharge.
Local Rule 4008-1 sets forth requirements for reaffirmation agreements in this court. Usually the filing of a reaffirmation agreement doesn’t require any notice, hearing or order, unless
a. The debtor is not represented by an attorney in his or her bankruptcy case (but if you have a lawyer and he or she doesn’t sign your reaffirmation agreement the court will set a hearing);
b. The reaffirmation agreement shows that the debtor’s expenses are larger than the debtor’s income and the court decides a hearing is necessary. If the reaffirmation agreement does not include the required explanation why the debtor feels he or she can make the payments the court will usually set the matter for a hearing.
An attorney who files a petition on behalf of a debtor must also represent the debtor during the negotiation and filing of any reaffirmation agreement, whether or not the attorney has charged the debtor a fee that includes representation for the reaffirmation. Further, the attorney must appear at any hearings set on the reaffirmation agreement. Reaffirmation agreements must contain the original (scanned) signatures of all required parties (the debtor(s), the creditor and, if the debtor is represented by a lawyer, the lawyer). If the reaffirmation agreement is missing any of the required information or signatures, it is possible the court will not approve the reaffirmation agreement or the court will set a hearing.
Reaffirmation Agreements filed in pro se debtor cases (meaning the debtor is not represented by an attorney) will always be scheduled for a hearing to make sure the debtor understands what are the consequences of a reaffirmation agreement, that the agreement is voluntary, and to determine whether the debtor has the ability to maintain payments on the debt being reaffirmed and/or whether the reaffirmation agreement is in the debtor’s best interest.
All judges permit debtors appearing pro se to appear by telephone for hearings on reaffirmation agreements. Please check the assigned judge’s web page for additional information regarding telephonic appearances.
A Reaffirmation Agreement must be filed using Official Bankruptcy Form Reaffirmation Agreememt Cover Sheet and Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts Director’s Procedural Reaffirmation Agreement Form(s):
Director’s Procedural Reaffirmation Agreement Forms