“Information for Persons Considering Bankruptcy”, February 24, 1995
This Bankruptcy handbook was prepared by the Office of the Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California. It is reproduced here with the permission of the Clerks Office. It is a very long document, but has a lot of very useful information concerning bankruptcy basics.
- What is bankruptcy?
- Who can start a bankruptcy?
- What is a joint petition?
- What are the different “chapters” in bankruptcy?
- What chapter is right for me?
- Where can I get more information concerning bankruptcy and bankruptcy procedure? Is there any place I can get free or low cost legal advice before I file?
- What services can a bankruptcy petition preparer provide?
- Can the clerk’s office give legal advice?
- What does the clerk’s office do?
- What documents do I need to start a bankruptcy?
- How do I know if a debt is secured, unsecured, priority or administrative so i can fill out my schedules correctly?
- What are exemptions?
- Where do I file my bankruptcy case?
- How do I “file” a document with the court?
- How much are the court fees to file a bankruptcy?
- What happens after I file bankruptcy?
- What is a bankruptcy trustee? Who is the United States trustee? What is the difference?
- What is the creditor’s meeting? what can I expect will happen at it?
- What is a discharge?
- What debts are dischargeable?
- What is the difference between a denial of discharge and a debt being non-dischargeable?
- What does it mean if a case is dismissed?
- What is a reaffirmation agreement?
- What is redemption?
- What are claims and claims objections? How are claims filed?
- What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?
- How do I change or correct information in the petition, schedules and statement I already filed with the clerk’s office?
- What should I do if I cannot make my Chapter 13 payment?
- My ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy. He/she has listed me as a co-signer on a scheduled debt. what can I do? Does my divorce decree protect me?
- How many years will a bankruptcy show on my credit report? How long will it take before I can get credit?
- How can I get information about a case?
This booklet is provided by the Office of the Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court, Eastern District of California. It has been prepared to respond to the questions frequently asked of Clerk’s Office staff by non-lawyers. If you have a question that is not covered in this booklet and it goes beyond an explanation of filing requirements, or would not be answered by hearing the text of a rule or statute without comment, it probably requires the giving of legal advice and therefore can not be answered by Clerk’s Office staff. Individuals are not required to have an attorney to file bankruptcy; however, the law in this area is sufficiently complex that most individuals find it desirable to obtain legal representation. This booklet has been prepared with the assistance of the Clerk’s Office Attorney Advisory Committee and the Sacramento County Bar Association Bankruptcy Section, and is not designed to instruct the reader on how to handle a bankruptcy proceeding without representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney. It is recommended that any individual, corporation or partnership considering the filing of a bankruptcy case first obtain the advice of a competent bankruptcy attorney. An initial consultation with a bankruptcy attorney is customarily available for a reasonable charge or for free. Debtors filing bankruptcy without legal representation will be held responsible to know the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and will be given no special consideration by the court. You should be aware that missing a deadline, failing to perform a required task, or failing to respond properly to an action could result in the dismissal of your case, denial of discharge, or losing property which you might otherwise have been entitled to keep. Please note that the Clerk’s Office is prohibited by law from providing legal advice. Debtors seeking assistance from bankruptcy petition preparers, including paralegals and typing services, are warned that such services are also prohibited by law from providing legal advice. Only an attorney may provide legal advice.
WARNING: BANKRUPTCY FRAUD IS A SERIOUS FEDERAL CRIME. (18 U.S. CODE, §§ 152 – 155.) PUNISHMENT CAN BE UP TO FIVE YEARS IN PRISON, AND A $25,000 FINE. THE FBI INVESTIGATES ALLEGATIONS OF BANKRUPTCY FRAUD. WHEN IN DOUBT ABOUT WHETHER AN ASSET OR FACT NEEDS TO BE DISCLOSED, OR IF WHAT YOU INTEND TO DO IS LEGAL, CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FOR ADVICE.
Bankruptcy is a way for people or businesses who owe more money than they can pay right now (a “debtor”), to either work out a plan to repay the money over time, under Chapter 11, 12 or 13, or for most of the bills to be wiped out (“discharged”), as in a chapter 7 case. While the debtor is either working out the plan or the trustee is gathering the available assets to sell, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. When the bankruptcy petition is stamped “Relief Ordered” upon filing, you are immediately protected from your creditors. What chapter you choose to file under, what bills can be eliminated, how long payments can be stretched out, what possessions you can keep, and other details are controlled by the Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. These are federal laws, which means they apply all over the United States. The Code and Rules are found in Title 11 of the United States Code. The various sections of the Bankruptcy Code are referred to throughout this booklet as ” 11 U.S.C. § _”.
Any person, partnership, corporation or business trust may file a bankruptcy. If the person or entity who owes the money, referred to as the debtor, starts the bankruptcy, it is called a voluntary bankruptcy. The people or entities that are owed money, referred to as the creditors, can also file a petition against a person or an entity who owes them money, and that is called an involuntary bankruptcy. In an involuntary case, the debtor gets a chance to contest the petition and contend it should not be in bankruptcy. Involuntary cases can only be filed under chapters 7 or 11. Voluntary cases can be filed under chapters 7, 9, 11, 12, and 13. Certain types of entities, such as banks and insurance companies, may not be eligible to file bankruptcy, however, almost all other entities can file a bankruptcy. A business that is NOT a partnership, corporation or business trust, cannot file a separate bankruptcy on its own. Those assets and debts would be included in the personal bankruptcy of the owner(s).
A joint petition is the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual’s spouse. Only people who are married on the date they file may file a joint petition. Unmarried persons, corporations and partnerships must each file a separate case. If you are an individual and have a business which is not a partnership, corporation or business trust, you should list the business as a “dba” (doing business as) on your petition. However, yours will not be considered a joint petition because the business is not an independently-recognized legal entity.
is the liquidation chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 cases are commonly referred to as “straight bankruptcy” or “liquidation” cases, and may be filed by an individual, corporation, or a partnership. Under chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to collect and sell all property that is not exempt and to use any proceeds to pay creditors. In the case of an individual, the debtor is allowed to claim certain property exempt (see discussion in number 12 below). In exchange for this, the debtor gets a discharge, which means that the debtor does not have to pay certain types of debts (see discussion in numbers 19, 20, and 21 below). Corporations and partnerships do not receive discharges. Consequently, any individuals legally liable for the partnership’s or corporation’s debts will remain liable. Therefore, individual bankruptcies may be required as well as the corporation or partnership bankruptcy.
is only for municipalities and governmental units, such as schools, water districts, and so on.
is the debt repayment chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed $1,000,000 ($250,000 in unsecured debts and $750,000 in secured debts), including individuals who operate businesses as sole proprietorships. It is not available to corporations or partnerships. Chapter 13 generally permits individuals to keep their property by repaying creditors out of their future income. Each chapter 13 debtor proposes a repayment plan which must be approved by the court. The amounts set forth in the plan must be paid to the chapter 13 trustee who distributes the funds for a small fee. Many debts that cannot be discharged can still be paid over time in a chapter 13 plan. After completion of payments under the plan, chapter 13 debtors receive a discharge of most debts.
offers bankruptcy relief to those who qualify as family farmers. There are debt limitations for chapter 12, and a certain portion of the debtor’s income must come from the operation of a farming business. Family farmers must propose a plan to repay their creditors over a period of time from future income and it must be approved by the court. Plan payments are made through a chapter 12 trustee who also monitors the debtor’s farming operations while the case is pending.
is the reorganization chapter available to businesses and individuals who have substantial assets and/or income to restructure and repay their debts. Creditors vote on whether to accept or reject a plan of reorganization which must be approved by the court. While the debtor normally remains in control of the assets, the court can order the appointment of a trustee for cause, such as when the debtor does not get a plan approved in a reasonable amount of time, or fails to follow some of the rules, or breaks the law. In addition to the filing fee paid to the Clerk, a quarterly fee shall be paid to the U.S. Trustee in all chapter 11 cases.
There is no debt limit under chapter 11. However, only a chapter 11 debtor that qualifies as a small business may request expedited treatment under chapter 11. To qualify as a “small business,” the debtor must be engaged in commercial or business activities, other than the ownership of real property, and the total of its secured plus unsecured debts must be less than $200,000. Due to the expense and complexity of chapter 11, the decision to file a chapter 11 petition should be made in consultation with an attorney.
You have a choice in deciding which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code will best suit your needs. The decision whether to file a bankruptcy, and under which chapter to file depends on the particular circumstances of the debtor. In general, chapter 7 is appropriate when the debtor has insufficient income to pay all or most of his/her debts. Otherwise, if the debtor has an income or property and can afford to pay all or a substantial portion of his/her debts, chapter 11, 12, or 13 may be appropriate depending on whether the debtor is an individual, partnership, corporation, or family farmer.
These are only a few of the factors to consider, however. There is no way that a simple booklet such as this can spell out all the different things to be considered. Also, considering your personal facts, comparing them to each chapter’s requirements, and deciding which chapter to select, would be giving legal advice. The Clerk’s Office staff and bankruptcy petition preparers, including typing services and paralegals, are prohibited from giving you legal advice. Only a lawyer can give you legal advice. Many lawyers charge a modest amount to help you (some less than bankruptcy petition preparation services) and most will give you a free consultation, in which they will go over your circumstances and needs and tell you what you should do and how much it will cost for them to do it. There are also several “do it yourself’ books that set out the details of each chapter and attempt to explain the bankruptcy process.
The decision whether to file a bankruptcy and under what chapter is an extremely important decision and should be made only with competent legal advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney after a review of all of the relevant facts of the debtor’s case.
6. WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION CONCERNING BANKRUPTCY AND BANKRUPTCY PROCEDURE? IS THERE ANY PLACE I CAN GET FREE OR LOW COST LEGAL ADVICE BEFORE I FILE?
The easiest way to get low or no-cost bankruptcy advice is to make an appointment with a private attorney. Many will provide a free initial consultation during which you can have your questions regarding bankruptcy procedures and their application to your situation answered.
McGeorge Law School operates a community legal service that represents low income bankruptcy clients on a space available basis. Services are provided by law students with attorney supervision. The McGeorge Community Legal Service phone number is (916) 739-7161.
Low cost help in typing your petition and forms is available from “bankruptcy petition preparers.” “Paralegal” or “typing” services are considered bankruptcy petition preparers. Bankruptcy petition preparers are not attorneys. Likewise, they are not employed or supervised by attorneys and cannot represent you in your bankruptcy. Only a licensed attorney can give you legal advice in answering your questions or helping you with your forms. Bankruptcy petition preparation services are listed in the phone book.
Bankruptcy petition preparers are permitted to provide services limited to the typing of forms. These services are subject to various statutory requirements and limitations. The Bankruptcy Code requires a bankruptcy petition preparer, within ten (10) days after the date of the filing of the petition, to file a declaration under penalty of perjury disclosing compensation received from or on behalf of the debtor and any unpaid fee charged to the debtor. Additionally, the bankruptcy petition preparer is required to sign and print the preparer’s name, address and social security number on all documents prepared for filing.
Please note that although bankruptcy preparers are required to sign all documents prepared for filing, they are not authorized to sign any document on your behalf. Therefore, you and if filing a joint petition your spouse, must also sign all documents. Copies of all prepared documents should be furnished to you by the bankruptcy petition preparer at the time they are presented to you for signature. Likewise, bankruptcy petition preparers are prohibited by law from collecting or receiving any court fees connected with the filing of your case. Consequently, all court fees connected with the filing of your case, including the filing fee and miscellaneous administrative fee, should be paid directly by you to the court (see discussion in number 15 below). The failure of any bankruptcy petition preparer to comply with the law should immediately be brought to the attention of any trustee appointed in your case and the local Office of the United States Trustee.
A bankruptcy case is a legal proceeding affecting the rights of debtors, creditors and other parties in interest. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 955, Clerk’s Office staff are prohibited from giving information which may be characterized as legal advice. Canon 2f and 3 of the Judiciary’s Code of Conduct also prohibits the providing of legal advice by the Clerk’s Office and further instructs the staff to remain impartial.
While there is no precise definition of legal advice, it includes at a minimum (1) acting on a person’s behalf in presenting a claim or defense to a court, and (2) advising a person on the merits of a claim or defense and the state of the law applicable to it. Clerk’s Office staff, therefore, will not provide information relating to:
- the application of laws and rules to individual claims or defenses
- whether jurisdiction is proper in a particular court
- whether a complaint properly presents a claim
- what the “best” procedures are to accomplish a particular objective
- the interpretation of case law
Clerk’s Office staff will not offer any opinion as to the probable disposition of any matter by the court. The information provided by Clerk’s Office staff is limited to explaining the filing requirements of the court and reading, without comment, the actual text of a bankruptcy rule, local rule or statute.
The Clerk’s Office provides a variety of services to the bankruptcy judges, attorneys and the public. Clerk’s Office staff provides clerical and administrative support to the court by filing and maintaining case-related papers, issuing process and writs, signing ministerial orders, collecting authorized fees, sending notices, entering judgments and orders, and setting hearings. The services provided by the Clerk’s Office to attorneys and the public include responding to requests for information and making copies of papers in bankruptcy court files.
Although Clerk’s Office staff cannot give you legal advice, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court is a source for many forms and local rules which you will need to file your bankruptcy petition and related documents.
A complete list of the documents and forms you will need to start a bankruptcy case under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code is contained in Attachment 1. In addition to requiring certain Official Forms (Form 1 — Voluntary Petition, Form 6 — Schedules A through J, Summary, and Declaration, Form 7 — Statement of Financial Affairs, and Form 8 — Statement of Intention), the Eastern District of California requires the filing of the following local forms: Creditor Matrix, Verification of Creditor Matrix, in Sacramento Division chapter 13 cases, a Chapter 13 Work Sheet, and in Fresno Division chapter 13 cases, a Chapter 13 Wage Order.
The order in which these documents should be assembled, the number of copies to file and the time within which you have to file them is indicated on Attachment 1. Together these forms are generally referred to as your bankruptcy petition, although technically the petition is only Form 1.
If you need to start your case quickly, you can file only those documents indicated on Attachment 1 as minimum documents required for incomplete filing. All additional documents must be filed within the time indicated on Attachment 1. Your failure to timely file additional required documents or seek an extension of time to do so may result in dismissal of your case, denial of discharge, or the imposition of sanctions.
Official Bankruptcy Form sets may be purchased at local stationery stores. The Clerk’s Office does not supply Official Bankruptcy Forms or sample plans. However, Official Bankruptcy Form samples may be obtained at the public counters and photocopied. The Clerk’s Office will supply you with the local forms listed on Attachment 1.
Tips For Completing Forms
- Type the information on the forms, if possible. All forms should be legible, 8 1/2 by 11 inches in size, two hole punched at the top/center and printed on one side only.
- Put a response to every question. If your answer to a question is “none,” and there is no “none” box to check, put “N/A.” Use continuation pages when you run out of room. Sign each form where required. If filing a joint case, make sure that your spouse signs, too.
- Prepare your creditor matrix (a mailing list of all your creditors) according to the matrix format instructions found in Attachment 2. The Clerk’s Office uses an Optical Character Reader to scan matrices and if you do not follow the instructions exactly, the scanner will not be able to read the matrix properly.
- Make sure that you have the number of copies indicated in Attachment 1. Assemble original forms and all sets of copies in the order set forth in Attachment 1.
11. HOW DO I KNOW IF A DEBT IS SECURED, UNSECURED, PRIORITY OR ADMINISTRATIVE SO I CAN FILL OUT MY SCHEDULES CORRECTLY?
- Secured Debt: A secured debt is a debt that is backed by property. A creditor whose debt is “secured” has a right to take property to satisfy a “secured debt.” For example, most homes are burdened by a ” secured debt.” This means that the lender has the right to take the home if the borrower fails to make payments on the loan. Most people who buy new cars give the lender a “security interest” in the car. This means that the debt is a “secured debt” and that the lender can take the car if the borrower fails to make payments on the car loan.
- Unsecured Debt: A debt is unsecured if you have simply promised to pay someone a sum of money at a particular time, and you have not pledged any real or personal property to collateralize that debt.
- Priority Debt: A priority debt is a debt entitled to priority in payment, ahead of most other debts, in a bankruptcy case. A listing of priority debts is given, in general terms, in 11 U.S.C. § 507 of the Bankruptcy Code. Examples of priority debts are some taxes, wage claims of employees, debts related to goods and services provided to a debtor’s estate during the pendency of a bankruptcy case, and alimony, maintenance or support of a spouse, former spouse, or child. If you have questions deciding which of your debts are entitled to priority status, you should consult an attorney.
- Administrative Debt: An administrative debt is also a priority debt and is one created when someone provides goods or services to your bankruptcy estate. The best example of an administrative debt is the fees generated by attorneys and other authorized professionals in representing the bankruptcy estate. A priority debt is a debt entitled to priority in payment, ahead of most other debts, in a bankruptcy case. A listing of priority debts is given, in general terms, in 11 U.S.C. § 507 of the Bankruptcy Code. Examples of priority debts are some taxes, wage claims of employees, debts related to goods and services provided to a debtor’s estate during the pendency of a bankruptcy case, and alimony, maintenance or support of a spouse, former spouse, or child. If you have questions deciding which of your debts are entitled to priority status, you should consult an attorney.
11 U.S.C. § 522(b) allows an individual debtor to exempt real, personal, or intangible property from the property of the estate. Exempt assets are protected by state law from distribution to your creditors. The exemptions allowed under California state law, and the dollar amounts of those exemptions, are listed in sections 703 and 704 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. Typically, exempt assets include jewelry, vehicles up to a certain dollar amount, the equity in your home up to a certain amount, and tools of the trade. Under bankruptcy law, you are entitled to list the assets set forth in sections 703 or 704 of the California Code of Civil Procedure as exempt.
Exemptions are claimed on schedule C. As with all schedules, it is important to fully complete and provide all the information requested. If no one objects to the exemptions you have listed within the time frame specified by the bankruptcy court, these assets will not be a part of your bankruptcy estate and will not be used to pay creditors through your bankruptcy case.
Deciding which assets are exempt and how and if you can protect these assets from your creditors can be one of the more important and difficult aspects of your bankruptcy case. It is extremely important to consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding the issue of exempt assets.
The bankruptcy court is a federal court. The federal court system divides the United States into judicial districts. Every state has at least one federal judicial district. Many have more. In California, for example, there are four federal judicial districts. This is the Eastern District of California. Due to its size, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California has been split into three divisions, each with a fully staffed Clerk’s Office. All three divisional Clerk’s Offices are open from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on all days except Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays. The addresses and public telephone numbers for each divisional office are indicated below. Unless otherwise indicated, all correspondence should be mailed to the street address of the appropriate divisional office.
- Sacramento Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
501 I Street, Room 3-200
Sacramento, CA 95814
- Modesto Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
1130 12th St., Suite C
Modesto, CA 95354
P.O. Box 5276 (correspondence)
P.O. Box 5376 (claims)
Modesto, CA 95352
- Fresno Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
2656 U.S. Courthouse
1130 0 Street
Fresno, CA 93721
(Although there is a bankruptcy court in Bakersfield, where bankruptcy hearings are periodically held, there is no staffed Clerk’s Office in Bakersfield.)
As a general rule, you should file your bankruptcy case in the bankruptcy court for the federal judicial district where you have lived for the greater part of the previous 180 days. You can also file in the district where your principal place of business has been located during the previous 180 days or where the principal assets have been located for that period.
The Eastern District of California covers the 34 counties in northern California indicated below. If your residence, principal place of business or principal assets have been located in one or more of these counties for the necessary period of time, you should file your case in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California. The specific county of your residence, principal place of business or principal assets determines in which of the Eastern District of California’s three divisions your case should be filed.
Sacramento Division: Petitions from Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Yolo, and Yuba counties and the Postal Zip Codes of 95220, 95227, 95234, 95237, 95240, 95241, 95242, 95253, 95258, and 95686 within San Joaquin County, shall be filed in the Sacramento Division.
Modesto Division: Petitions from Calaveras, Stanislaus, and Tuolumne counties, and all Postal Zip Codes within San Joaquin County except those designated above for filing in the Sacramento Division, shall be filed in the Modesto Division.
Fresno Division: Petitions from Fresno, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, and Tulare counties shall be filed in the Fresno Division.
Bankruptcy petitions, pleadings and other papers may be submitted for filing by mail or in person at the Clerk’s Office public counters. In the Sacramento Division, documents may additionally be tendered for filing by placing them in the document depository located at the front entrance to the Federal Building at 501 I Street. The depository is accessible twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week. For instructions concerning the use of the Sacramento Division document depository, please see Attachment 1
Absent extraordinary circumstances, all documents must be submitted for filing by mail, at a Clerk’s Office public counter during business hours, or by placing them in the document depository. When extraordinary, compelling circumstances require delivery of a document to the Clerk’s Office after hours, an emergency filing can be arranged by contacting the appropriate divisional Clerk’s Office during business hours. The Clerk’s Office does not accept documents for filing by facsimile.
After completing, assembling, and two hole punching the top/center of the original and all copies of your bankruptcy papers, mail or deliver them to the appropriate divisional Clerk’s Office accompanied by the filing fee payment or a completed application to pay fees in installments. The Clerk’s Office will file stamp and return one copy to you. If your petition is mailed, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope of sufficient size to obtain your file stamped copy. In the Sacramento Division, you must also enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope if you use the document depository.
The fees for filing petitions under all chapters of the Bankruptcy Code are indicated on Attachment 1, entitled “Filing Requirements.” In addition to the filing fee, the court charges a $30.00 miscellaneous administrative fee in all chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases filed on or after December 1, 1992.
You must pay the required filing and administrative fees regardless of your income. If you cannot come up with the full amount at the time of filing, you may pay the filing fee and administrative fee in up to four installments over a period of one hundred twenty (120) days. To do so, you must complete an application to pay filing and administrative fees in installments and submit it with your petition. Application forms are available at each divisional Clerk’s Office.
You cannot apply to pay in installments if you have already paid an attorney, a “bankruptcy petition preparer,” or anyone else to help you with your bankruptcy. Additionally, you cannot pay anyone for help with your case until all installments have been paid.
The Clerk’s Office does not accept personal checks. All payments should be made in the division where the petition is filed by cash or cashier’s check, certified check, or money order payable to “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court” For your protection, do not send cash in the mail.
Upon filing the original petition with the Clerk’s Office, the court’s restraining order, called the automatic stay, immediately takes effect and prohibits all creditors from taking any collection action against the debtor or the debtor’s property. Although the stay is automatic, creditors need to be advised of the stay. The court issues a notice to all creditors advising them of the filing of the bankruptcy, the case number, the automatic stay, the name of the trustee assigned to the case (if filed under chapter 7, 12, or 13), the date set for the meeting of creditors, the deadline, if any, set for filing objections to the discharge of the debtor and/or the dischargeability of specific debts, and whether and where to file claims. The exact information in the notice differs depending on the chapter under which the case is filed.
In a Chapter 7 case involving an individual debtor, the creditors generally have sixty (60) days from the first date set for the meeting of creditors to object to the discharge of the debtor and/or the dischargeability of a specific debt. If the deadline passes without any objections to the debtor’s discharge being filed, the court will issue the discharge order. If any objections to the dischargeability of specific debts are filed, they will be heard by the court, but will not delay the granting of a discharge with respect to other debts. An objection to discharge or to the dischargeability of certain debts is considered a separate lawsuit (an adversary proceeding) within the bankruptcy and may result in a trial before the judge assigned to the case. Corporate and partnership chapter 7 debtors do not receive discharges. If there are no assets from which a dividend can be paid, the trustee will prepare a report of no distribution and the case will be closed. If there are assets that are not exempt, funds will be available for distribution to creditors. The court will set claims deadlines and notify all creditors to file their claims. The trustee will proceed to collect the assets, liquidate them and distribute the proceeds to creditors. When the assets have been completely administered, the court will close the case.
In a Chapter 13 case, creditors are given an opportunity to object to the plan. If no objection is filed by creditors or the trustee, the plan may be confirmed as filed. Once the plan is confirmed, the trustee will distribute the proceeds of the debtor’s plan payments to creditors until the debtor completes the plan or the court dismisses or converts the case. Upon completion of the chapter 13 plan, the court will issue a discharge order, the trustee will prepare a final report, and the case will be closed.
In a Chapter 12 case, the confirmation hearing must be concluded within forty-five (45) days of filing the plan. The court may consider dismissal of the case if a plan is not confirmed.
In a Chapter 11 case, a debtor’s conference is held with the United States Trustee’s staff before the creditors’ meeting. At the debtor’s conference, the United States Trustee will go over the responsibilities and restrictions on the debtor-in-possession, explain the quarterly fees and monthly operating reports, and generally discuss the financial situation of the debtor and the scope of the anticipated plan of reorganization. A disclosure statement must be filed with the plan and approved by the court before votes for and against the plan can be solicited. After the estate has been fully administered, the court enters a final decree closing the case. A chapter 11 estate may be considered fully administered and closed before the payments required by the plan have been completed.
In all chapter 7, 12, 13 and in some chapter 11 cases, a case trustee is assigned. In chapter 7 cases they are called “Panel Trustees.” In chapter 12 and 13 cases they are called “Standing Trustees.” The trustee’s job is to administer the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors get as much money as possible, and to run the first meeting of creditors, (also called the “Section 341 meeting”, because 11 U.S.C. § 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the meeting be held). The trustee either collects and sells non-exempt estate property, as in the case of a chapter 7, or collects and pays out money on a repayment plan, as in the case of a chapter 13. The trustee can require that you provide, under penalty of perjury, information and documents, either before, after, or at the meeting. You should always cooperate with the trustee, since failure to cooperate with the trustee could be grounds to have your discharge denied. Trustees are not necessarily lawyers, and they are not paid by the court. They are appointed by the United States Trustee. The trustees report to the court, but their fees come out of the bankruptcy filing fees or as a percentage of the money distributed to creditors in the bankruptcy.
The United States Trustee’s Office is part of the U.S. Department of Justice, and is separate from the court. The United States Trustee’s Office is a watchdog agency, charged with monitoring all bankruptcies, appointing and supervising all trustees, and identifying fraud in bankruptcy cases. The United States Trustee’s Office cannot give you legal advice, but they can give you information about the status of a case, and you can contact them if you are having a problem with a trustee, or if you have evidence of any fraudulent activity. In monitoring cases, the United States Trustee reviews all bankruptcy petitions and pleadings filed -in cases, and participates in many proceedings affecting the case, but they do not administer the case themselves. They can bring motions in the bankruptcy, such as ones to dismiss the case, or to deny the debtor’s discharge.
A “meeting of creditors” is the single hearing all debtors must attend in any bankruptcy proceeding. It is held outside the presence of the judge and usually occurs between twenty (20) and forty (40) days from the date the original petition is filed with the court. In chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13 cases, the trustee assigned by the court on behalf of the United States Trustee conducts the hearing. In chapter 11 cases where the debtor is in possession and no trustee is assigned, a representative of the United States Trustee’s office conducts the hearing.
The hearing permits the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office to review the debtor’s petition and schedules with the debtor face-to-face. The debtor is required to answer questions under penalty of perjury concerning the debtor’s acts, conduct, property, liabilities, financial condition and any matter that may affect administration of the estate or the debtor’s right to discharge. This information enables the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office to understand the debtor’s circumstances and facilitates efficient administration of the case. Additionally, the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office will ask questions to ensure that the debtor understand the positive and negative aspects of filing for bankruptcy.
The hearing is referred to as the “meeting of creditors” because creditors are notified that they may attend and question the debtor about the location and disposition of assets and any other matter relevant to the administration of the case. However, creditors rarely attend these hearings and, in general, are not considered to have waived any of their rights by failing to appear. The hearing usually lasts only a few minutes and may be continued if the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Off ice is not satisfied with the infonnation provided by the debtor. If the debtor fails to appear and provide the information requested at the hearing, the trustee or representative of the United States Trustee’s Office may request that the bankruptcy case be dismissed or that the debtor be ordered by the court to cooperate or be held in contempt of court for willful failure to cooperate.
The discharge order is issued by the court and permanently prohibits creditors from taking action to collect dischargeable debts against the debtor personally; this does not prevent secured creditors from seizing collateral if payments are not kept up, or other creditors from pursuing property of the estate.
Some debts are not dischargeable, and others may be found to be non-dischargeable depending on particular circumstances.
In a chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy court will order that the debtor be discharged of all dischargeable debts once the time for filing complaints objecting to discharge has expired unless:
- the debtor is not an individual
- a complaint objecting to the debtor’s discharge has been filed
- the debtor has filed a waiver of discharge
In chapter 11 cases, the confirmation of a plan of reorganization discharges the debtor from dischargeable debts that arose before the date of the order of relief unless:
- the plan or order confirming Plan provides otherwise
- the plan is a liquidating plan and the debtor would be denied a discharge in a chapter 7 case under 11 U.S.C. § 727
In chapter 12 and chapter 13 cases, the court will order that the debtor is discharged of dischargeable debts after the debtor has completed all payments under the plan, or prior to plan completion, after notice and hearing, if the requirements of 11 U.S.C. §§ 1228(b) or 1328(b) have been met.
The granting of a discharge does not automatically result in the closing of a case. All contested matters, adversary proceedings, and appeals must be resolved and the appointed trustee or debtor in-possession must file a final report and account and request entry of a final decree before the Clerk’s Office will close the case.
All debts are dischargeable except for those listed in 11 U.S.C. § 523. The non-dischargeable debts listed in § 523 include:
- certain taxes and fines
- debts created through fraudulent conduct or providing false information to a creditor
- debts not listed in your bankruptcy petition
- alimony, child maintenance or support, and certain debts arising out of a divorce decree or separation agreement
- debts from willful and malicious injury to another
- government guaranteed student loans due within seven (7) years before filing your bankruptcy
- debts caused by the death or a personal injury related to the operation of a motor vehicle while you were intoxicated
- post bankruptcy condominium or cooperative owners’ association fees
This list includes many examples of non-dischargeable debts but you should review 11 U.S.C. § 523 for a complete list.
Some debts listed in 11 U.S.C. § 523, such as those based on fraudulent conduct, embezzlement or willful and malicious injury to another, are discharged unless a complaint to deny discharge of that debt is timely filed with the bankruptcy court. Ordinarily, these complaints must be filed within sixty (60) days of the first date set for the meeting of creditors.
Additionally, debts that were not listed on your bankruptcy schedules or that were incurred after you filed bankruptcy are generally not discharged.
A discharge can be denied by the court either for one particular debt or for all debts. For a discharge to be denied, either as to a particular debt or as to all debts, someone must file an adversary proceeding (lawsuit) with the court.
In a lawsuit to deny the discharge as to all debts, the person who brings the action must prove to the court that the debtor did one of the following: (1) transferred, concealed, removed, destroyed or mutilated property of the debtor, (within one year before the bankruptcy was filed) or after the bankruptcy was filed, or (2) concealed, destroyed, mutilated, falsified, or failed to keep and preserve books and records about the debtor’s financial condition or business transactions, or (3) the debtor made a false statement while under oath, (in writing or orally), or (4) failed to turn over books and records, or (5), failed to explain the loss of assets, or (6) had received a previous bankruptcy discharge within six (6) years.
To deny the discharge as to one debt only, the creditor must prove that the debtor (1) got the money or thing by making false representations, false pretenses or actual fraud, or (2) used a materially false statement about his financial condition, the creditor relied on.
A dismissal order ends the case. Upon dismissal the “automatic stay” ends and creditors may start to collect debts, unless a discharge is entered before the dismissal and is not revoked. An order of dismissal itself will not free the debtor from any debt. Often, a case is dismissed when the debtor fails to do something he/she must do (such as show up for the creditors’ meeting, answer the trustee’s questions honestly, produce books and records the trustee requests), or if it is in the best interests of the creditors. Unless the debtor appeals the order or seeks reconsideration of the order within ten (10) days after entry of the order, the Clerk will automatically close the case.
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by which a bankruptcy debtor becomes legally obligated to pay all or a portion of an otherwise dischargeable debt. Such an agreement must generally be filed within sixty (60) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors.
If the reaffirming debtor is represented by an attorney, the agreement is filed with an affidavit of the attorney which complies with 11 U.S.C. § 524(c)(3). No hearing for approval of such an agreement is necessary. If the reaffirming debtor is not represented by an attorney, the debtor or creditor must file an application for approval of the agreement, along with a request for hearing. An order approving the agreement should be brought to the hearing. You must appear in person at the hearing. The judge will ask you questions to determine whether the reaffirmation agreement imposes an undue burden on you or your dependents and whether it is in your best interests. Since reaffirmed debts are not discharged, the bankruptcy court will normally only reaffirm secured debts where the collateral is important to your daily activities.
Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law. You can voluntarily repay any debt instead of signing a reaffirmation agreement, but there may be valid reasons for wanting to reaffirm a particular debt.
Since a reaffirmation agreement takes away some of the effectiveness of your discharge, legal counsel is advisable before agreeing to a reaffirmation. Even if you sign a reaffirmation agreement, you have a minimum of sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court to change your mind. If your discharge date is more than sixty (60) days after the agreement is filed with the court, you have until your discharge date to change your mind. If you reaffirm a debt and fail to make the payments as agreed, the creditor can take action against you to recover any property that was given as security for the loan and you may remain personally liable for any remaining debt.
Redemption allows an individual debtor (not a partnership or a corporation) to keep tangible, personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use by paying the holder of a lien on the property the amount of the allowed secured claim on the property, which typically means the value of the property. Otherwise, in order to retain the property, the debtor would have to pay the entire amount of the secured creditor’s debt, do a reaffirmation agreement and become legally obligated on the debt again. The property redeemed must be claimed as exempt or abandoned.
With redemption, a debtor can often get hens released on personal household possessions for much less than the underlying debt on those secured possessions. Unless the creditor consents to periodic payments, redemption must generally be made in one lump sum payment to the creditor. If the debtor and creditor agree to the redemption, just a consent order of redemption is required. If the redemption is opposed, a motion for redemption and a request for hearing should be filed.
- Claims: In the broadest sense, a claim is any right to payment held by a person or company against you and your bankruptcy estate. A claim does not have to be a past due amount but can include an anticipated sum of money which will come due in the future. In filling out your Schedules, you should include any past, present or future debts as potential claims.
- Claims Objections: You are entitled to object to any claim filed in your bankruptcy case if you believe the debt is not owed or if you believe the claim misrepresents the amount or kind of debt (e.g. secured or priority) which you owe. In some circumstances, an objection to claim can be initiated by filing a motion in the bankruptcy court; in other circumstances, it must be initiated by filing an adversary proceeding (like a lawsuit in your bankruptcy case). If you anticipate objecting to claims, you should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible since the objection process can be complicated and time sensitive.
- Filing of Claims: The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor’s claim is called a proof of claim. The proof of claim should include a copy of the obligation giving rise to the claim as well as evidence of the secured status of the debt if the debt is secured. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, with limited exceptions, claims filed by creditors, except governmental units, in chapter 7, 12 and 13 cases must be filed within ninety (90) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Claims of governmental units must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the date the petition was filed. In the Eastern District of California, the ninety (90) day and one hundred eighty (180) day deadlines also apply, by local rule, to the filing of claims by creditors in chapter 11 cases. If a creditor files a claim after the specified deadline, you may object to the claim as being untimely filed.
For purposes of obtaining your discharge, it may be important for you to file a claim on behalf of a creditor if that creditor should fail to do so. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, you (or in chapter 7 and some 11 cases, the trustee) may file a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor within thirty (30) days after the last day for filing claims.
If a creditor continues to attempt to collect a debt after the bankruptcy is filed in violation of the automatic stay, you should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy, and provide them with either the case name number and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to collect, the debtor may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor to obtain a specific order from the court prohibiting the creditor from taking further collection action and, if the creditor is willfully violating the automatic stay, the court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and punish the creditor by fine or incarceration. Any such legal action brought against the creditor will be complex and will normally require representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
27. HOW DO I CHANGE OR CORRECT INFORMATION IN THE PETITION, SCHEDULES AND STATEMENTS I ALREADY FILED WITH THE CLERK’S OFFICE?
The information contained in your petition, schedules, and statement of affairs is submitted under penalty of perjury.” Therefore, you must be certain that it is correct when you sign these documents. If, however, you later discover that something is inaccurate, the documents may be corrected by the filing of an amendment with the Clerk’s Office. New schedules or statements must be filed showing the corrected information along with an amendment cover sheet which may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office. A fee of $20.00 must be paid to amend schedules of creditors or lists of creditors after notice to creditors. The amendment cover sheet contains certain instructions which must be strictly followed in order for the amendment to be processed properly. All amendments must be served upon the United States Trustee and case trustee, and certain amendments must be served upon the creditors affected by the amendment.
If the debtor cannot make a chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact the trustee by phone and by letter advising the trustee of the problem and whether it is temporary or permanent. If it is a temporary problem and the payments can be made up, the debtor should advise the trustee of the time and manner in which the debtor will make up the payments. Significant changes in the debtor’s circumstances may require that the plan be formally modified. If the problem is permanent and the debtor is no longer able to make payments to the plan, the trustee will request that the case be dismissed or converted to another chapter. The determination of whether to modify, dismiss or convert a case requires the same kind of analysis as is needed for the initial decision whether to file bankruptcy and under what chapter. Therefore, the debtor should seek counsel from a qualified bankruptcy attorney before attempting to make such a decision. If the debtor delays making a voluntary decision and cannot make the plan payments, the court may dismiss the case.
29. MY EX-SPOUSE HAS FILED BANKRUPTCY. HE/SHE HAS LISTED ME AS A CO-SIGNER ON A SCHEDULED DEBT. WHAT CAN I DO? DOES MY DIVORCE DECREE PROTECT ME?
If you are a co-obligor with your ex-spouse on a debt, the creditor can require the entire payment of that debt from your share of the community property even though the divorce decree assigns the debt to your ex-spouse. Depending on the terms of your divorce decree, you may be able to have certain support obligations under it determined to be non-dischargeable by the bankruptcy court or in state court. You should seek legal advice for a thorough explanation of your rights and obligations in this area as soon as you find out that your ex-spouse has filed a bankruptcy.
30. HOW MANY YEARS WILL A BANKRUPTCY SHOW ON MY CREDIT REPORT? HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE BEFORE I CAN GET CREDIT?
The bankruptcy petition, schedules and plan are a public document and are available to the general public at the Clerk’s Office. Credit reporting agencies regularly collect information from the petitions filed and report the information on their credit reporting services. Bankruptcies normally will remain on your credit report for up to ten (10) years and may be taken into consideration by any person reviewing a credit report for the purpose of extending credit in the future. The decision whether to grant you credit in the future is strictly up to the creditor and varies from creditor to creditor depending on the type of credit requested. There is no law which prevents anyone from extending credit to you immediately after the filing of a bankruptcy nor will a creditor be required to extend credit to you. The best way for you to obtain credit in the future is to generate adequate and regular income in the future and pay all of your financial obligations in a timely and responsible manner. Many creditors will not deal with you in the future unless you have already established credit with someone else and demonstrate that you are a reliable debtor. In general it is recommended that, after the filing of a bankruptcy, one learn to live within his/her income and not request credit which is not absolutely necessary.
Case information may be obtained by telephone, through the mail, or in person at the Clerk’s Office public counters.
- Obtaining Case Information By Telephone to permit you around-the-clock access to case information, the Clerk’s Office has installed two automated case information systems. The Voice Case Information System, or VCIS, uses a computer-generated synthesized voice device to read case summary information directly from the court’s computer in response to touch-tone telephone inquiries. VCIS is provided free of charge. Local calls within the Sacramento area may be placed by dialing (916) 930-4400. Long distance callers may access VCIS toll-free by dialing 1-800-736-0158.
The Public Access to Court Electronic Records, or PACER, information system permits the use of any terminal or computer, a modem, and communications software to dial the court’s computer and access lists of newly filed cases, case summary information, and docket entries made during the past six (6) months. Users must obtain a login-id and password from the San Antonio billing center by calling 1-800-676-6856 and pay $1.00 per minute to access the PACER system. Additional information concerning VCIS and PACER is available from any divisional Clerk’s Office.
Basic case information that you are unable to access using an automated case information system may be obtained free of charge by calling the divisional Clerk’s Office in which the case is pending during the hours indicated below.
- Sacramento Division8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 916) 930-4400.
- Modesto Division
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Fresno Division
9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
As a general rule, all information other than basic case information requires a physical search of the court’s records. If a physical search of the court’s records is required, you must pay a $15-00 search fee for every name or item to be searched before the Clerk’s Office will provide the requested information. Requests for information subject to the search fee should be made in writing. You may, however, obtain the information free of charge in most cases by coming to the Clerk’s Office and conducting your own search.
- Obtaining Case Information By Mail: To obtain case information by mail, send a written request containing the case number, the case name, the information you request, your name, address, a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours and the best time to call, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Written requests for information requiring a physical search of the court’s records should be accompanied by a cashier’s check, certified check, or money order sufficient to cover the applicable search fee.
- Obtaining Case Information In Person: As a general rule, all documents in the court’s case files and all court dockets are public record and available to the public for inspection. Files and dockets may be reviewed at the Clerk’s Office public counters during business hours.
Not all papers are placed in the main, or “parent,” case file. Adversary proceedings, chapter 11 monthly operating reports, motions for relief from automatic stay filed in chapter 11 cases, and proofs of claim filed in chapter 11 are kept in separate files. In chapter 7 and chapter 13 cases, proofs of claim are generally found on the left side of the first volume of the parent case file. However, due to their number, they are at times kept in separate files.
Documents are placed in files from the bottom up in chronological order. In other words, the document initiating the case will be the one on the bottom of the first volume. Documents are listed on court dockets from the top down in chronological order. The document initiating the case will be the first one listed below the names and addresses on the first page of the docket.
The court docket is a list of brief entries made to record the activity in a case. It contains information concerning the parties involved, filing fees paid, deadlines set, hearings held, and documents filed in the case. For each order and judgment filed, the date the order or judgment was recorded, or entered, on the docket is indicated.
In order to review a case file or docket, you will need the case number. Nficrofiche lists of names, alphabetic case locators, and a computer terminals are available at the public counter for your use. To have a file or “hard copy” docket pulled for viewing, you will need to complete a request form and present it with a driver’s license or other appropriate form of identification. Unless the file or docket you wish to view has been archived or is otherwise unavailable, it will be pulled for your review.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES MAY YOU REMOVE FILES FROM THE FILE REVIEW AREA OR REMOVE DOCUMENTS FROM FILES.
All files must be returned in proper order. The Clerk’s Office is the keeper of the court’s records and is responsible for maintaining their accuracy and integrity. Removal of files from the file review area, removal of documents from files or failure to return files in proper order will be deemed sufficient grounds to refuse to provide you with additional files.
Electronic court dockets may be viewed and printed using the computer terminals in the file review area. There is a $.50 per page charge for printed dockets. Printed dockets may be picked up at the public counter. Partial dockets may be viewed and printed by entering beginning and ending dates when requesting the docket.
The electronic dockets for cases filed prior to August 20, 1990 list only the events docketed on or after January 4, 1993. All events docketed prior to January 4, 1993 are listed on a paper, or “hard copy”, docket for the case. In order to review the complete docket in one of these cases, you will need to request that it be pulled.
Due to limited storage space, closed case files and “hard copy” dockets are archived by periodically shipping them to the Federal Records Center in San Bruno, California for storage. Files and dockets stored at the Federal Records Center may be recalled to the Clerk’s Off-ice and reviewed in the Clerk’s Office file review area. A $25.00 fee will be charged for each record retrieved from the Federal Records Center by the Clerk’s Office. This fee must be paid before the Clerk’s Office will recall a record.
Alternatively, you may travel to the Federal Records Center in San Bruno to review the archived file or docket. All personal visits to the Federal Records Center are by appointment only. Appointments are scheduled 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and must be requested by telephone at least 24 hours in advance. You must obtain the file or docket location, box, and accession numbers from the Clerk’s Office and provide it to the Federal Records Center in order to review the file there. For more information concerning reviewing files at the Federal Records Center, please see Attachment 4.
- Getting Copies of Papers from Locally Stored Case Files: Open case files and recently closed case files are locally stored. -Copies of papers in locally stored case files may be obtained by mail or in person at the Clerk’s Office public counter. To obtain copies by mail, a written request containing the case number, the case name, the title of the documents you wish copied, your name, address, a telephone number where you can be reached during business hours and the best time to call, must be sent to the Clerk’s Office with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a cashier’s check, certified check or money order for the appropriate fee payable to “Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court.” Unless certification is needed, a $15.00 per name or item search fee plus a $.50 per page photocopy fee will be charged to obtain copies by mail. An additional fee of $5.00 per document will be charged if certified copies are needed.
To obtain copies in person at the Clerk’s Office, you may use the coin operated, $.15 per page, photocopy machines located in each divisional Clerk’s Office file review area unless certified copies are needed. DO NOT REMOVE DOCUMENTS FROM FILES TO PHOTOCOPY –FOLD THEM OVER INSTEAD.
The Clerk’s Office will not certify copies made by you. To obtain certified copies in person, you will be charged a $.50 per page photocopy fee plus a $5.00 per document certification fee provided that you paper-clip together the right side of the pages you would like copied and certified. If you don’t paper clip the pages together, the $15.00 per name or item search fee, the $.50 per page photocopy fee and the $5.00 per document certification fee must be paid to obtain certified copies in person.
- Getting Copies of Papers from Archived Files: Copies of papers in archived files may be obtained from the Clerk’s Office in the same manner as copies of papers in locally stored case files. Unless certification is needed, a $25.00 per record archive retrieval fee plus a $.50 per page photocopy fee will be charged for copy work requested by mail. An additional $5.00 per document fee will be charged for certified copies. Likewise, you may use the coin-operated, public lobby photocopy machines to copy papers in case files recalled to the Clerk’s Office from the Federal Records Center unless certified copies are needed. Certified copies of documents in these files will be subject to the same $.50 per page photocopy and $5.00 per document certification fees as papers in locally stored cases.
Alternatively, you may obtain copies of papers in archived files by visiting the Federal Records Center in San Bruno. The cost for copy work at the Federal Records Center is $.50 per page. An additional fee of $5.00 per document will be charged if certified copies are needed. You must obtain the same information concerning the file from the Clerk’s Office that you would need to view the file, and contact the Federal Records Center to schedule all appointment. See Attachment 4.
The Federal Records Center will also accept mail requests for photocopies of archived personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case files and forward them to the requestor or, with sufficient notice, make them available for pick-up at the Federal Records Center. Photocopies of either the entire contents of an archived personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case file or a package of commonly requested documents may be requested. Copies of papers in archived chapter 7 business cases, cases under all other chapters, and adversary proceedings may only be obtained by visiting the Federal Records Center or requesting that the Clerk’s Office retrieve the file. For more information concerning requests by mail for copies of papers from personal chapter 7 bankruptcy case files, please see Attachment 5.
More Information About Bankruptcy:
- Do People Typically End Up In Bankruptcy By Ignoring Their Problems?
- Can I Even Afford To File Bankruptcy?
- How Can Filing For Bankruptcy Help With Creditors?