FAQs

  • CM/ECF PACER, What Is it and Where Do I Get More Information about It?

    CM/ECF PACER stands for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. It is the system used by attorneys and the public to view court dockets and print documents from federal court cases.

    Information about fees and registering for PACER may be found on the PACER website.


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  • Copies, How Do I Get Non-Certified Copies Of Documents?

    A) Using Computer to Print Documents from CM/ECF PACER - Electronic docket information and images of all documents filed in a bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding may be retrieved and printed via the CM/ECF PACER system (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). For cases closed in the Los Angeles Division prior to February 1, 2001, please call the Court’s Call Center at (855) 460-9641 for assistance.

    B) Clerk's Office at Each Division – Copies may be ordered at the clerk's Office in person or by mail, and there is a search fee and a per-page fee. If ordered by mail, include a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the copies.


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  • Cost, How Much Is It To File For Bankruptcy?

    Filing Fees to Start a Bankruptcy Case must be paid at the time a Bankruptcy Petition Package is filed, the current  Fee Schedule lists fees that apply when documents are filed.


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  • Court Address, What Is The Address Of The Court Where Documents Are Filed?

    The Bankruptcy Court has five divisional offices located throughout the Central District. of California. Divisional Offices are located in Santa Barbara, Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Riverside. If you need to file a document in person at the bankruptcy court, you should file the document at the intake window of the clerk’s office of each division for cases that have been filed in that particular division only.
    The specific location is determined by the zip code of a debtor's residence address or location of principal assets of the business.

    If a document is being filed electronically through CM/ECF, the electronic filing automatically routes the document to the correct bankruptcy case docket, regardless of the division in which the bankruptcy case was filed.


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  • Court Closed, When Is The Court Closed For Federal Holidays And Other Dates?

    The court is closed on all Federal Holidays and occasionally for district wide training or other functions. Notices of closure are publicized via Public Notices.

    New Year's Day - observed January 1, or the first Monday after January 1 if January 1 is on a weekend
    Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday - observed on the third Monday of January
    President's Day - observed on the third Monday of February
    Memorial Day - observed on the last Monday of May
    Independence Day - observed on July 4
    Labor Day - observed on the first Monday of September
    Columbus Day - observed on the second Monday of October
    Veterans' Day - observed on November 11 or the first Monday following November 11 if it is on a weekend
    Thanksgiving Day - observed on the fourth Thursday of November
    Christmas Day - observed on December 25

     


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  • Court Hours, What Are Normal Filing Hours And Can Emergency Bankruptcy Petitions Be Filed?

    Normal Court Hours to File Documents Filed at the Courthouse – The bankruptcy court filing window is normally open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Federal Holidays on which the court is closed.

    Petition Packages and Documents Filed by CM/ECF – The CM/ECF system ordinarily accepts filing of bankruptcy petitions and documents 24 hours per day, seven days per week. 

    Filing Emergency Petitions or Documents After Normal Court Hours -- For a debtor or creditor who is not filing a bankruptcy petition package or other documents through ECF, and needs to file the petition package or documents after court hours, it may be possible to do so, but only by a pre-approved appointment. Contact the appropriate intake office to arrange for an emergency filing:

    Santa Barbara: (805) 884-4878
    San Fernando Valley: (818) 587-2865
    Los Angeles: (213) 894-6751 or 894-3141
    Santa Ana: (714) 338-5330
    Riverside: (951) 774-1102


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  • Court Hours, What Are The Normal Court Hours For Court Business?

    The bankruptcy court is normally open Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for court business, including filing documents and attending court hearings. Also, judges set their own hearing calendars, so please consult the front page of a Notice of Hearing for the particular time of a hearing.

    Information on future hearing calendars are available for each judge.
     


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  • Credit Counseling And Personal Financial Management Certificates Of Completion, Does Each Debtor Get Them?

    Yes, the agency that provides the credit counseling service will provide a certificate that the course was completed, and the agency that provides the Personal Financial Management service will provide a certificate that the course was completed. If spouses file a joint bankruptcy case, both spouses must take each class and obtain their own separate Certificates of Completion for each class.


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  • Credit Counseling Certificate And Exhibit D, When Do I Need To File These?

    Credit Counseling Certificate + Exhibit D - At the same time that a bankruptcy petition is filed, an individual must fill out a document titled "Exhibit D" and file Exhibit D and the Certificate of Completion with the court. Many judges will dismiss a bankruptcy case if an individual does not strictly comply with this rule. There are very few situations in which a bankruptcy case may go forward without a credit counseling class being completed. To avoid having a bankruptcy case dismissed, it is strongly recommended that an individual consult a bankruptcy attorney to understand the credit counseling requirements. Important rules are Bankruptcy Code Sections 109(h) and 521(b) and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 1007.


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  • Credit Counseling vs. Personal Financial Management, What Are The Differences?

    An individual debtor must complete TWO DIFFERENT CLASSES to obtain a discharge. The names for these courses are: 1) Credit Counseling; and 2) Personal Financial Management. The courses are different in two ways: (a) When the class must be taken; and (b) What type of individual debtor must take the class. If a bankruptcy case is filed jointly, each spouse must take both classes.

    CREDIT COUNSELING, Before Filing For Bankruptcy – The Bankruptcy Code ordinarily requires an individual debtor (not a business debtor) to complete an approved course in Credit Counseling within 180 days before filing a bankruptcy case. See list of courses approved by the U.S. Trustee. The course can be completed in person, over the internet, or by telephone, and the credit counseling service will provide a certificate that the course was completed.

    PERSONAL FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, Very Soon After Filing for Bankruptcy - In order to obtain a discharge of debts, an individual debtor (not a business debtor) must complete an approved course in Personal Financial Management within 60 days after the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. See list of courses approved by the U.S. Trustee. The course can be completed in person, over the internet, or over the telephone, and the course provider will provide a Certificate of Completion.


    See Also:
    Credit Counseling Certificate And Exhibit D, When Do I Need To File These?
    Personal Financial Management Certificate, Do I Need To File This?
  • Credit Report, How Do I Get A Bankruptcy Removed From My Report?

    Credit Report - In general, the Bankruptcy Court does not control the actions of credit reporting agencies. Debtors must directly contact credit reporting agencies to discuss how long a bankruptcy case remains on a credit report. If debtors have questions about this or have problems gaining cooperation from credit agencies, a debtor may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center (CRC-240), Washington, D.C. 20580. The telephone number is (202) 326-2222. Here are general rules:

    Improper Involuntary Bankruptcy Case - If a party has improperly filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against a debtor, the bankruptcy court may enter an order prohibiting credit reporting agencies from reporting the bankruptcy on the debtor's credit report.

    Voluntary Bankruptcy Case - The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 15 U.S.C. Section 1681 et seq., is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. The law states that credit reporting agencies may not report a bankruptcy case on a person's credit report after ten (10) years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. Generally, bad credit information is removed after seven (7) years. The larger credit reporting agencies belong to an organization called the Associated Credit Bureaus. We are informed that the policy of the Associated Credit Bureaus is to remove successfully completed Chapter 13 cases from the credit report after seven (7) years to encourage debtors to file under this chapter.

    Publication from the Office of the U.S. Trustee: Informational Materials Regarding Your Credit Report Including How to Dispute Errors or Incorrect Information


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  • Creditor, How Do I Get The Money Owed To Me From Someone Who Has Filed For Bankruptcy?

    Creditors in bankruptcy cases have debts paid either by waiting for a distribution from the estate (unsecured creditors), by reclaiming property from the bankruptcy estate (secured creditors), or by obtaining a judgment that the debt is not dischargeable. The timing and procedure depend upon the chapter of the bankruptcy case. Requests for information regarding payment on a claim should be directed to the trustee assigned to the case.

    A) Secured Creditors and Motions for Relief From the Automatic Stay - Creditors whose debts are secured by real or personal property can try to reclaim the property from the bankruptcy estate. In most situations this requires the filing of a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. The court has its own mandatory form motions regarding relief from the automatic stay, and these are titled “F 4001-1M” forms. The forms differ depending upon what type of property the creditor desires to reclaim. There are many procedural rules to follow, and the secured creditor must prove to the court that it is entitled to reclaim the property. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney to determine if the property can be reclaimed or if a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay is necessary.

    B) Creditors Involved in Lawsuits in Other Courts – Creditors who are involved in lawsuits with the debtor in other courts need permission to continue the lawsuit. In most situations this requires the filing of a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. There are many procedural rules to follow, and the creditor must prove to the court that it is entitled to proceed with the lawsuit in another court. It is highly recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    Download Form: Notice of Motion and Motion for Relief From the Automatic Stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362  (Action in Non-Bankruptcy Forum)

    C) Unsecured Creditors and Adversary Proceedings to Determine Debts Non-dischargeable - Regardless of what chapter bankruptcy is filed and whether or not a debtor lists a creditor on the Schedules, a creditor can file an Adversary Proceeding to determine that a debt is not dischargeable. In an adversary proceeding, a creditor is required to prove to the court that the debt is non-dischargeable. There are many procedures and deadlines, and it is highly recommended that the creditor consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    D) Creditors Waiting for a Distribution from the Bankruptcy Estate – To get paid from a bankruptcy estate, it may be necessary to file a document titled “Proof of Claim.”

    (1) Obtaining a Proof of Claim Form

    In chapter 7 cases a Proof of Claim form may be included with the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. See the Court Locator for the location of Clerk’s Offices where a Proof of Claim can be obtained in person. 

    (2) Filing a Proof of Claim -- When filing a Proof of Claim, be sure to attach photocopies of supporting documents to the original Proof of Claim form (NOTE: Do not send the “original” copies of the supporting documentation). A creditor may also send to the Clerk’s Office a letter with the creditor’s name and address, the debtor's name and bankruptcy case number, the amount owed to the creditor, the type of claim (secured, unsecured, priority), the date the debt was incurred, and any documentation that supports the claim. A creditor may need to file a Proof of Claim with the court within 90 days of the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and possibly even earlier. To be aware of the applicable deadline, refer to Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 3002(c) and check for relevant court orders in the bankruptcy docket for the debtor who owes the money. An original and one copy of the Proof of Claim are required. If a creditor wishes to receive a conformed copy of the Proof of Claim, please enclose one extra copy of the Proof of Claim and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

    (3) Deciding if a Creditor Needs to File a Proof of Claim -- Please consult the categories below to determine if you need to file a Proof of Claim or are allowed to file a Proof of Claim.

    Creditors Which are Listed on Debtor’s Schedules

    • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Cases – For Chapter 7 cases, if a creditor is listed in the Schedules and it appears that there will be a distribution for creditors, the clerk’s office will send a Proof of Claim at the beginning of the bankruptcy case along with the Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines. However, for many chapter 7 bankruptcy cases a distribution is not likely, and the same Notice of Chapter 7 Bankruptcy will specifically state that creditors should not file a Proof of Claim unless the court sends a follow-up notice.
    • Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Cases – For chapter 11 cases, it is not necessary to wait to receive the Notice of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines before a creditor files a Proof of Claim. A notice that identifies a deadline for filing Proofs of Claims will be sent to all creditors.
    • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Cases - For chapter 13 cases, it is not necessary to wait to receive the Notice of Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines before a creditor may file a Proof of Claim. In fact, creditors must file a Proof of Claim. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases move quickly, and generally within the first two to three months, the court will conduct a Chapter 13 Plan confirmation hearing.

    Creditors Which are Not Listed on Debtor’s Schedules – Sometimes a debtor does not list all of its creditors. If a creditor is not listed on the debtor’s Schedules, the creditor can file a Proof of Claim to notify the court and other parties the amount of money that it is owed.

    Creditors Which Dispute the Claim Listed in Debtor’s Schedules – If a creditor disputes the amount of its claim that is listed in the debtor’s Schedules, the creditor must timely file a Proof of Claim to notify the court and other parties the amount of money that it is owed.

    NOTE: Filing a Proof of Claim may limit a creditor’s right to a jury trial if the creditor is sued by a trustee or a chapter 11 Debtor-in-Possession. It is important to consult a bankruptcy attorney.


    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
    Relief From The Automatic Stay, How Do Creditors File This?
  • Creditors, How Does The Court Notify Creditors A Bankruptcy Case Has Been Filed?

    Very soon after the bankruptcy petition is filed, the clerk's office mails a notice to creditors that a debtor has filed for bankruptcy. This notice is titled “Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines.” A debtor must list all of its creditors when filing the bankruptcy petition package so that each creditor is aware of the bankruptcy. The court only mails a notice to creditors that are listed; therefore, a debtor must insure that all creditors are listed. Generally, creditors are shown in two places in a petition package:

    A) Schedules - Creditors should be found on the proper Schedules according to the type of debt.

    List of Schedules and descriptions of the types of debt for each Schedule.

    B) Master Mailing List - Creditors should be found in alphabetical order on the Master Mailing Matrix with the correct street address, city, state, and zip code for each creditor.


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  • Deadlines And Procedures For Adversary Proceedings, Are There Any?

    Deadlines - Prosecuting or defending an adversary proceeding is complicated, and there are many important deadlines for filing a complaint, serving a Summons, responding to the complaint, completing discovery, filing pre-trial motions, and other activities in the lawsuit. These rules are found in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure 7000 series and Local Bankruptcy Rules. It is highly recommended that a party hire a bankruptcy attorney, and even when an attorney is involved, the actual party (plaintiff/defendant/other) should pay close attention to all activities in the lawsuit so that there is adequate time to prepare for deadlines and court dates (status conferences, hearings on motions, pre-trial conferences, trial). Complaints to determine dischargeability of debts and to deny a discharge must be filed very soon after the bankruptcy case is filed, and the deadline for filing such complaints is specified in the Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines that the clerk's office mails to creditors right after a bankruptcy case is filed.

    Special Procedures of Judges - Individual judges have special procedures related to adversary proceedings. These procedures may include the format for preparing and filing status conference reports and pre-trial stipulations, trial procedures, and treatment of witnesses and other evidence.


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  • Discharge, Does Every Debtor Get Discharged Of Every Debt?

    A discharge is a court order that forgives a debtor of certain specific debts. The discharge order prohibits a creditor from attempting to collect from a debtor a debt that has been discharged. However, not all debts are dischargeable. Parties can file written requests (adversary complaints) to have the court determine if a debt is dischargeable.

    A) Creditor, Trustee, or U.S. Trustee Asks the Court to Determine if There is a Discharge

    1) Some unsecured debts are not dischargeable because Congress has determined they are types of debts that should not be discharged because of public policy reasons. These debts are listed in Section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code and usually require that a debtor prove the debt should not be discharged. Examples are:

    • spousal and child support obligations;
    • certain tax debts;
    • most educational loans;
    • debts related to injuries or death caused by driving while intoxicated; and
    • debts arising from fraudulent conduct.

    2) It is also possible for a debtor to be denied a discharge of all unsecured debts if a debtor has not been honest, forthcoming, or cooperative in the bankruptcy case. These scenarios are listed in Section 727 of the Bankruptcy Code and usually involve the U.S. Trustee, a trustee, or a creditor filing a lawsuit in a chapter 7 bankruptcy case to determine that the debtor should be totally denied a discharge.

    3) Debts that are secured by real or personal property are not dischargeable. For example, a creditor may be able to seize property even after a discharge is granted because the debtor has not kept up with payments. Even though the creditor may not collect on the unsecured portion of the debt, the property can still be foreclosed upon (residence, automobile, etc.).

    B) Debtor asks the court to determine if a debt can be discharged -- Some creditors have obtained court judgments, and then filed a "lien" which can be used to sell property of the debtor. In some situations, a debtor may file a motion asking the court to remove such a lien. Also, a debtor may file an adversary proceeding asking the court to rule that other debts are dischargeable.


    See Also:
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
  • Discharge, How Do I Find Out Which Debts Were Included?

    The discharge order sent by the Clerk's Office will contain a general statement about the categories of debts that are discharged. The individual debts that are discharged will not be listed on the discharge order. Instead, the discharge order will provide that debts are discharged UNLESS there has been a separate order denying a discharge of a specific debt. If there are no such orders, the debtor can assume that it received a discharge of all debts which fall into the categories indicated in the discharge order. See Bankruptcy Code Sections 523, 727(b), 1141 and 1328(a) and consult a bankruptcy attorney for more information on categories of debts that qualify for a discharge in chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy cases.


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    Discharge, How Do I Get A Copy?
  • Discharge, How Do I Get A Copy?

    Copy Sent By Clerk's Office: The Clerk's Office will mail a copy of the discharge to the debtor, the case trustee, and all creditors. The discharge will be mailed to the addresses shown in the debtor's list of creditors or in the schedules, whichever is filed later.

    Request a Copy Later - Copies of a discharge may be obtained using the same process used to obtain copies of any other document filed in a bankruptcy case. For information about obtaining copies of documents. 


    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case, What If The One I Am Interested In Has Been Archived?
    Copies, How Do I Get Non-Certified Copies Of Documents?
    Document, How Do I Get Certified Copy?
    Document, What If The One I Need Is Not On The Electronic Docket?
  • Discharge, When Is It Entered?

    A) In chapter 7 bankruptcy cases, the entry date of a discharge on the case docket depends upon whether a trustee or creditor objects to the debtor receiving a discharge. For information about non-dischargeability issues and proceedings, consult Bankruptcy Code Section 727 and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 4004.

    (1) The earliest date that a discharge will be entered on the case docket is shortly after the sixtieth (60th) day following the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. Under Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 4004, a trustee or creditors have sixty (60) days after the first date set for the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors to file a complaint objecting to discharge. This sixty (60) day period ensures that a trustee and creditors have sufficient time to conduct investigations, and the court may extend the deadline if an appropriate motion to extend the filing deadline is filed before the sixty (60) day period expires.

    (2) The later date that a discharge will be entered is after other actions are taken, such as:

    1. A trustee or creditor can delay the entry of a discharge order by filing a complaint (adversary proceeding) objecting to the discharge within the sixty (60) day period mentioned above or by getting the court to extend the sixty (60) day deadline;
    2. A creditor or debtor can delay by filing a reaffirmation agreement;
    3. An individual debtor will cause a delay by not filing Certification of Completion of Instructional Course
    4. Concerning Personal Financial Management (Form 23). For requirements for filing proof of completion of the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management; and
    5. The U.S. Trustee filed a motion to dismiss the bankruptcy case under Bankruptcy Code Section 707(b), and the motion is still pending.

    (3) A discharge will not be entered in a chapter 7 case if:

    B) In Chapter 11 cases, if the debtor is an individual, a discharge may be entered once the debtor has completed making payments under the Chapter 11 plan. If the debtor is not an individual, the debtor must be entitled to a discharge, and if so, a discharge order may be entered once the Chapter 11 Plan is confirmed. For more information, see Bankruptcy Code Section 1141 and consult a bankruptcy attorney.

    C) In Chapter 13 cases, a discharge is usually entered once the debtor has completed making payments to creditors in accordance with the terms of the debtor's Chapter 13 Plan and the debtor has filed the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management (Form 23). For requirements for filing the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management, see FAQ Before Filing #16. Also see Bankruptcy Code Section 1328. In limited circumstances a debtor may be granted a discharge despite not complying with discharge rules. This is called a "hardship discharge." See section 1328(b) of the Bankruptcy Code. An attorney should be consulted to determine if this exception applies.

    Download Form:  Official Form 23


    See Also:
    Personal Financial Management Certificate, Do I Need To File This?
    Prior Bankruptcy, If I Had A Prior Bankruptcy, How Soon Can I Get Another Discharge?
  • Dismiss A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Court Do This If All Forms Are Not Filed?

    Avoid Dismissal of a Bankruptcy Case - In order for a bankruptcy case to proceed, it is a debtor's responsibility to provide the court with all information that is required by the law. If this information is not provided, a bankruptcy case may be dismissed without a debtor obtaining a discharge of debts.

    At the beginning of a bankruptcy case, if all of the required information is not filed with the court, the Clerk's Office will usually mail to the debtor a notice that identifies which documents or signatures are missing. The bankruptcy case will be dismissed without a hearing if this information is not provided within 14 days after a bankruptcy case is filed, unless permission is obtained from a judge to extend this deadline. Some items are due no later than 45 days after the bankruptcy case is filed, and after the 45-day period the court may dismiss a bankruptcy case without a hearing. In some cases, the court will prohibit a debtor from filing another bankruptcy case for 180 days or more.


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  • Dismiss Or Convert A Bankruptcy Case, Can The Court Do This Without The Debtor's Consent?

    If a debtor is not complying with bankruptcy requirements, a trustee or creditor can file a motion to dismiss or convert a bankruptcy case under Bankruptcy Code Sections 706, 707, 1112 or 1307, or the court can set an Order to Show Cause re Dismissal/Conversion.

    DISMISSAL HAS SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES. If a bankruptcy case is dismissed at the request of a trustee or creditor, or by the court on its own motion, the debtor may be prohibited from filing another bankruptcy case for 180 days [Bankruptcy Code Section 109(g)] or be required to file a motion to obtain permission to file another bankruptcy case (Bankruptcy Code Section 349).


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