FAQs

  • Lawsuit, What If One Was Filed Before The Bankruptcy Case Was Filed?

    A Debtor and a Creditor are Often Involved in Lawsuits before a Bankruptcy Case is Filed – Generally, a lawsuit commenced before the bankruptcy case was filed must stop unless the bankruptcy judge gives permission for it to continue. In other situations the lawsuit is replaced by a creditor filing a "proof of claim" in the bankruptcy case, or the lawsuit may be removed from the non-bankruptcy court to the bankruptcy court. If a debtor is a plaintiff in a lawsuit, the trustee and court must immediately be notified to determine if that lawsuit can continue or must be brought into the bankruptcy court. In chapter 7 and 11 bankruptcy cases in which a trustee is appointed, the trustee generally becomes the new plaintiff if the debtor was the plaintiff at the time the bankruptcy case was filed.


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  • Local Bankruptcy Rules, Where Do I Obtain A Copy?

    The Central District of California has its own special rules for bankruptcy cases and adversary proceedings administered in this district. These rules are called "Local Bankruptcy Rules" for the Central District of California" ("LBR"). The Local Bankruptcy Rules can be downloaded from this website free of charge, or they may be viewed at all divisional clerk's office locations.

     


    See Also:
    Locations, Where Are The Five Different Offices Of The Bankruptcy Court?
  • Locations, Where Are The Five Different Offices Of The Bankruptcy Court?

    The Bankruptcy Court has five divisional offices located throughout the Central District of California: Northern Division, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and Riverside. Each division has courtrooms, a Clerk's Office for filing documents, and staff available to answer questions.

    Find the location of a particular judge.

    In addition, the Office of U.S. Trustee has locations at or near each court division.
     


    See Also:
    Court Address, What Is The Address Of The Court Where Documents Are Filed?
    Trustee, How Do I Find Out Who It Is In A Bankruptcy Case?
  • Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?

    A motion is a written request made to the court, asking the judge to issue an order. The motion must be supported by evidence. The motion must include a separate "Notice of Motion" which includes a brief summary of the nature of the motion, the deadline for filing a response, and if there is a hearing, the date, time, and location of the hearing. The Notice of Motion and the Motion must be served upon all parties required by the Local Bankruptcy Rules and Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. "Serving" the Notice of Motion and Motion is an important part of due process, and failure to timely serve interested parties can result in a denial of or delay in ruling on the motion or a denial of the motion. Consult the CM/ECF Administrative Procedures to determine if a person may be served electronically instead of by mail.   

    Other parties have the chance to file and serve a written response to the motion. There is a specific deadline for filing and serving a written response, usually fourteen (14) days prior to a hearing. The response may agree with or oppose the action requested. If the response opposes the action requested, it must contain the reasons for opposing the motion and must include supporting evidence.

    The Court will enter an order in which the judge either grants or denies the motion.

    See Local Bankruptcy Rule 9013-1 for rules and deadlines for filing and serving most motions. There may also be other Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and Local Bankruptcy Rules that apply.

    Download Form:     Notice of Motion  F 9013-1.1

     

     

     


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  • New Law, Can I Still File For Bankruptcy?

    The new bankruptcy laws went into effect on October 17, 2005. These laws do not prevent a debtor from filing bankruptcy, though the new bankruptcy laws contain some differences.

    The main procedural difference is in the information that a debtor must provide to the bankruptcy court in order to open a bankruptcy case and to obtain a discharge.

    Other differences include:

    1. how long an individual must wait to obtain a discharge if the debtor had a prior bankruptcy;
    2. the income level required in order to obtain a discharge in a chapter 7 case;
    3. how long the Automatic Stay lasts; or
    4. the procedure for reaffirming a debt on an automobile or a credit card.

     

    It is highly recommended that an individual or business owner consult with a bankruptcy attorney to learn how the changes in bankruptcy laws may impact the particular financial situation.


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  • Office Of U.S. Trustee, What Is Their Location And Function?

    The Office of the U.S. Trustee (“UST”) is not part of the bankruptcy court but is an agency of the Department of Justice whose main role is to monitor the administration of bankruptcy cases, detect bankruptcy fraud, and appoint/supervise a group of trustees who can administer chapter 7, 11, or 13 bankruptcy cases. The Office of the U.S. Trustee is divided nationwide into 16 regions, and each region is comprised of lawyers, case analysts, and other staff who are supervised by one person whose title is “United States Trustee.” The U.S. Trustee generally has the right to be present at any court hearing and can make motions and recommendations to bankruptcy judges.

    The U.S. Trustee for Region 16 has oversight of bankruptcy cases in the Central District of California. The main office for Region 16 is in Los Angeles, but offices are located near to or at the courthouses in all divisions.

    One of the first actions in a bankruptcy case is the 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, and this meeting may be held at one of these division offices.  See 341(a) Meeting Locations.


    See Also:
    341(A) Meeting Of Creditors, What Is It And Who Must Attend?
  • Order Or Judgment, What Are These?

    An "Order" is a separate document that a judge signs which sets forth the judge's ruling on a motion. A "Judgment" is a separate document that a judge signs and sets forth the judge's ruling at the end of an adversary proceeding. The order or judgment may be prepared by the court, be lodged by the moving party, or be lodged by a responding party. After the judge signs an Order or Judgment, it is entered on the court docket and served on required parties. The Order or Judgment begins a timeline for filing appeals or filing motions to change the ruling. In some situations the court will enter an Order or Judgment and also enter a document titled "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law." But usually an Order or Judgment is very short and simply states that legal conclusions and factual findings were made on the record at the hearing.

    An Order or Judgment must be prepared separately from other documents, i.e. it shall not be a part of a motion, response, application, stipulation, etc.

    * See Local Bankruptcy Rule 9021-1 for the format of preparing and lodging a proposed Order or Judgment.

    * See LOU Procedures for preparing and electronically lodging proposed Orders or Judgments PDF.

    * Only CM/ECF-registered users are able to lodge an order electronically via LOU.

    * See Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 9022 and applicable Local Bankruptcy Rules to identify to whom the court must deliver an entered order.

    If the Order or Judgment relates to a court hearing, a record may be obtained of the oral arguments and court findings and conclusions made at the hearing.

    See Audio Recording of Court Proceedings Order Form
    See Transcipt Order Form and Instructions


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  • Personal Financial Management Certificate, Do I Need To File This?

    Form B23 + Number of the Personal Financial Management Course Certificate - Within 60 days after the first 341(a) Meeting of Creditors, individuals must file a mandatory court form (Form 23/B23). It is not necessary to file the Certificate of Completion. Instead, the debtor is required to insert the certificate number on Form B23, and a joint debtor must fill out and file a separate Form B23 with a separate certificate number. If an individual delays in doing this, the bankruptcy case will likely be closed (not dismissed) without a discharge of debts being granted. If the case is closed, an individual debtor will have to file a motion to reopen the bankruptcy case (and pay a substantial filing fee) and to extend the time to have Form B23 placed on the court docket and a discharge order entered. Important rules are Bankruptcy Code Sections 727(a)(11), 1141(d)(3), and 1328(g). 

    Mandatory Court Form: Debtor’s Certification of Completion of Postpetition Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management (B23)
     


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  • Personal Identification, How Can I Protect Mine In Bankruptcy

     A) General Privacy Policy - The Judicial Conference privacy policy addresses the protection of individual privacy in the context of access to electronic case files. Effective December 1, 2003, the policy requires that personal identifiers, such as Social Security numbers, financial account numbers, dates of birth, and names of minor children be redacted. A debtor and others who file documents with the court are responsible for redacting personal identifiers from documents filed with the court. Neither the clerk's office nor bankruptcy judges are responsible for this.

    The privacy policy applies to all documents filed with the court, whether submitted by electronic means or by paper copy. The policy is not retroactive.

    B) Excluding a Debtor's Personal Identifiers from Petition Packages - In compliance with the Judicial Conference privacy policy, effective December, 1, 2003, filers should redact certain personal or sensitive information from documents filed with the Court. "Personal identifiers" are the following:

    1. Social Security Numbers: All 9 digits of the SSN - A debtor is required to submit a Statement of Social Security Number(s) (Form B21) containing the full nine-digit SSN at the time a petition is filed. The bankruptcy court clerk's office staff will use the information to open a bankruptcy case docket, but the actual Form B21 will not become part of the docket that is viewable by the public. Last 4 digits only – For all other documents in which an individual's SSN must be included, ONLY insert the last four digits of the SSN. If a debtor needs to amend a social security number, 3 forms must be filed. Download form below.
    2. Financial Account Numbers: If financial account numbers are relevant, only the last four digits of these numbers should be used.
    3. Dates of Birth: If an individual's date of birth must be included in a document, only the year should be used.

    C) Excluding Names of Minor Children -- If the name of a minor child must be mentioned in a document, only the initials of that child should be used.

    Download Form: Amended Statement of Social Security Number(s) or ITIN Number
     


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  • Prior Bankruptcy, If I Had A Prior Bankruptcy, How Soon Can I Get Another Discharge?

    If this is not a debtor’s first bankruptcy case and the debtor received a discharge of any debts in a prior case within the last eight years, the debtor may not be entitled to a discharge in the current bankruptcy case. It depends upon the chapter number of the prior bankruptcy case, the chapter number of the current bankruptcy case, and the number of years that elapsed between the date that a prior bankruptcy case was filed and the date that the current bankruptcy case was filed. It is important to consult a bankruptcy attorney and to refer to Section 727(a) and Section 1328(f) of the Bankruptcy Code. General rules:

    A) Prior bankruptcy = Chapter 7 or 11, and Current bankruptcy = Chapter 7:
    8 years after date that the prior bankruptcy case was filed – Bankruptcy Code Section 727(a)(8)

    B) Prior bankruptcy = Chapter 7 Current bankruptcy = Chapter 13:
    4 years after date that prior bankruptcy case was filed – Bankruptcy Code Section 1328(f)(1)

    C) Prior bankruptcy = Chapter 13 Current bankruptcy = Chapter 7:
     

    • No mandatory waiting period if 100% of claims were paid in the prior Chapter 13 bankruptcy - Bankruptcy Code Section 727(a)(9)(A)
    • No mandatory waiting period if 70% of claims were paid in the prior Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the Chapter 13 Plan was proposed in good faith and was the debtor’s best effort – Bankruptcy Code Section 727(a)(9)(B)
    • 6 years after date that prior bankruptcy case was filed, if less than 70% (and up to 100%) of claims were not paid in the prior Chapter 13 bankruptcy case – Bankruptcy Code Section 727(a)(9)
       

    D) Prior bankruptcy = Chapter 13 Current bankruptcy = Chapter 13:
    2 years after date that the prior bankruptcy case was filed – Bankruptcy Code Section 1328(f)(2)


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  • Reaffirmation Agreement, Can I Choose To Keep Property By Entering Into One?

    An individual debtor can choose to keep certain personal property (such as an automobile) by entering into a Reaffirmation Agreement and having the Reaffirmation Agreement approved by the court. A Reaffirmation Agreement turns a debt that would be discharged into a debt that will not be discharged. This is a decision that should rarely be made and should only be done if the creditor is giving up something in exchange, such as a reduction in loan amount or interest. The Reaffirmation Agreement can be entered into after the bankruptcy case is filed, and there are very detailed and specific requirements which must be complied with.

    Court Hearing Not Required – It is not necessary for the bankruptcy judge to approve a Reaffirmation Agreement if a debtor is represented by an attorney during negotiations for the Reaffirmation Agreement and the attorney signs all appropriate sections of the Reaffirmation Agreement.

    Court Hearing Required – A bankruptcy judge must review a Reaffirmation Agreement during a court hearing if the debtor is not represented by an attorney during negotiations for the Reaffirmation Agreement. The debtor must attend the court hearing so that the bankruptcy judge can ask questions of the debtor and examine the Reaffirmation Agreement and make sure that it is in the best interest of the debtor to approve the Reaffirmation Agreement. The judge may decide to disapprove the Reaffirmation Agreement even if the debtor has signed it.

    See Reaffirmation Agreement Cover Sheet

    See Reaffirmation Agreement Form


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  • Reaffirmation Agreement, How Does This Affect The Discharge?

    A valid Reaffirmation Agreement prevents a particular debt from being discharged. A Reaffirmation Agreement must be approved by the debtor's attorney or by the court, and the rules are complex. It is highly recommended to consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

    Download Form: Reaffirmation Agreement
    Download Form: Reaffirmation Agreement Cover Sheet


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  • Refund, What is the Process to Receive a Refund of Fees Paid to the Court?

    Generally, fees paid to the court are not refundable except when an error has been made on the part of the court. Refunds for approved requests will be made in the form of a check.

    A) To Make a Refund Request - Submit a letter to the court with the following information:

    • Name of individual or entity which paid the fee;
    • Name of individual or entity requesting a refund;
    • Address and telephone number of the requesting party;
    • Amount of the transaction, including copies of cancelled checks or other receipt showing proof of payment;
    • Bankruptcy Case Number;
    • Proof of payment;
    • Bankruptcy Case Number of Adversary Proceeding Case Number, whichever is applicable;
    • Brief explanation of the reason for requesting a refund; and
    • Face page of the document that was filed/copied and for which the fee was originally charged.

     

    B) Mailing the Request – Mail the request to:

    United States Bankruptcy Court
    Office of the Clerk
    Edward Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse
    255 East Temple Street, Suite 1067
    Los Angeles, CA 90012
    Attn: Financial Services Department


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  • Relief From The Automatic Stay, How Do Creditors File This?

    A) General Rule - In many situations a creditor must obtain a court order granting relief from the Automatic Stay to have the right to take action against a debtor or property of the estate. This is true regardless of what type of action a creditor has already filed against the debtor in another court, or if the creditor has started (but not completed) taking action to repossess property of the debtor. If a creditor does not obtain a court order, that creditor could be sanctioned (i.e., fined), and any action taken by that creditor may be void.

    B) Filing a Motion and Setting a Hearing Date -- A Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay is commenced by filing the appropriate motion and setting the motion for a hearing date. To file a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay, the Local Bankruptcy Rules require parties to use mandatory forms. Click here for a list of F 4001-1M form motions. There are several different types of mandatory form motions. A creditor will pick the appropriate mandatory form motion based upon what the creditor is asking the court for permission to do (i.e., proceed against real property, proceed against personal property, continue with an unlawful detainer lawsuit in Superior Court, proceed with a state court lawsuit, etc.). Each motion must demonstrate “cause” for lifting the Automatic Stay, and shall be supported by admissible evidence. For example, if a creditor asserts a secured claim, the motion must contain admissible documents that assert a valid security interest and all documents that support an assertion of lack of adequate protection or a lack of equity in the relevant property.

    C) Filing Fee and Number of Copies - A Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay requires a filing fee, see Fee Schedule. If the motion is filed in person at the intake window of the clerk’s office, a creditor must file one copy with the court (original and one extra copy). If a creditor also wants to leave with a “Filed” stamped copy of the motion, the creditor must bring a second copy. For all motions filed electronically via CM/ECF, the creditor must promptly deliver one copy of the motion to the judge’s chambers by mail or personal delivery.

    D) Serving the Motion and Notice of Motion - Remember to serve all parties required to be served by the Local Bankruptcy Rules and to complete the service within the time period required by those rules. Consult the CM/ECF Administrative Procedures regarding electronic notice and service.


    See Also:
    Hearing Date, How Do I Obtain One On My Motion And Provide Notice Of The Hearing?
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?
    Shortened Time (Ex Parte), How Can I Have A Motion Heard Like This?
  • Reopen A Bankruptcy Case, How Do I Do This And Is A Fee Required?

    A) Filing a Motion to Reopen - Even though a bankruptcy case is closed, a debtor, trustee, or creditor may want the court to hear motions and enter orders in that bankruptcy case. If so, it is necessary to file TWO MOTIONS. The First Motion is a Motion to Reopen Bankruptcy Case, which may or may not be set for hearing depending upon the particular judge. In most situations a filing fee will be required, and the fee will differ in a Chapter 7, 11, or 13 case. The judge will generally rule on whether to grant the Motion to Reopen before the judge will consider any motion you wish to file once the case is reopened.

    B) Filing the Underlying Motion or Certificate re Personal Financial Management - If the judge grants the Motion to Reopen the case, it is time to file the Second Motion. The Second Motion is often a motion to avoid a judgment lien or a motion to extend the time to file Form 23, Debtor's Certification of Completion of Course Concerning Personal Financial Management.

    If the purpose of reopening the bankruptcy case is to allow filing of the Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management, attach Form 23 to the FIRST MOTION, as the judge may allow Form 23 to be filed without the debtor having to file a second motion and without conducting a second hearing.

    C) Exception to Needing to Reopen Bankruptcy Case - It is not necessary to file a Motion to Reopen the case in order to file an adversary proceeding pursuant to Bankruptcy Code Section 523(a)(3).


    See Also:
    Personal Financial Management Certificate, Do I Need To File This?
  • Shortened Time (Ex Parte), How Can I Have A Motion Heard Like This?

    Generally the Local Bankruptcy Rules require a hearing to be set on at least 21 days notice. Hearing dates on motions may be set sooner than 21 days if the moving party can establish a reason for the request. Refer to the Local Bankruptcy Rules, in particular Rule 9075-1. Three separate documents must be submitted to the court simultaneously.

    A) The first document to file is the "Application" to have a motion heard on shortened time (i.e., an Ex Parte Application) which must explain the reasons and must contain admissible evidence to support the need to have a motion heard on less than 21 days notice. File the Application and on the same day deliver one copy directly to the judge's chambers.

    B) The second document to file is the "Motion" that the party wants the judge to hear on shortened time. The motion must identify the ruling sought, and the motion must contain the legal grounds and admissible evidence for granting the motion. File the motion and on the same day deliver one copy, along with the Application, directly to the judge's chambers.

    C) The third document is a "Proposed Order" that the judge can sign to grant or deny the Application to have the motion heard on shortened time. Lodge the proposed order with the court and on the same day deliver one copy directly to the judge's chambers. If the order is not lodged electronically, the original and copies will be delivered to the clerk's office intake window. See form Order Shortening Time [Local Bankruptcy Rule 9075-1(b)].

    See Judge's Procedures page to find out if the judge has additional procedures for setting hearings on Ex Parte Applications. If the judge grants the Application, the court will contact you with a hearing date and instructions for providing notice of the hearing and for serving the motion.


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  • Telephonic Appearances/Tentative Rulings, What Are The Judges’ Procedures?

    Telephonic Appearances - Many judges allow attorneys who have filed a motion, response or other document related to a hearing, to appear by telephone. The procedures to follow are found in the "Judges" section of this website. However, there are many situations in which an appearance in court is required. Click here for "Judges' Procedures" to find out the method for requesting a telephonic appearance and to find out how to make the appearance.

    Tentative Rulings - Many judges post tentative rulings in advance of a hearing or conference. Judges vary on how far in advance these tentative rulings are posted and what information is provided in the tentative ruling. Tentative Rulings are posted on Court's website. 


    See Also:
    Attorney, Are All Debtors And Creditors Required To Have One?
  • Tenant/Lessee Filed For Bankruptcy, What Happens Now?

    The filing of a bankruptcy petition will generally stop (i.e., automatically stay) most actions (such as eviction proceedings or other actions for possession or damages) by a landlord against a tenant for the duration of the bankruptcy case. However, this also depends upon whether the lease was for residential property, commercial property, or personal property. For residential property it also depends upon whether or not an unlawful detainer proceeding was commenced or completed in Superior Court before the bankruptcy case was filed.

    A landlord may file a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay to reclaim the premises. If the motion is granted by the bankruptcy judge, the Automatic Stay will either be lifted or altered, thereby allowing the landlord to continue with a proceeding or action against the tenant, but only limited to recovery of possession of the premises.

    As this is a complex area which has been affected by the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005, it is recommended that legal advice be obtained from a bankruptcy attorney.


    See Also:
    Automatic Stay, What Is It And Does It Protect A Debtor From All Creditors?
    Relief From The Automatic Stay, How Do Creditors File This?
  • Transcript or CD of a Court Hearing, How Do I Obtain One?

    For more information about obtaining an Audio CD Recording for a fee.
    For more information about obtaining a Transcript for a fee.


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  • Trustee, Does Every Bankruptcy Case Have One?

    A trustee is automatically appointed in every Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

    A trustee is not automatically appointed in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Instead, the debtor acts as the “Debtor-in-Possession” and has many of the duties and rights that a trustee has. Creditors that need information about a Debtor-in-Possession should contact either the responsible officer of the debtor or the attorneys for the debtor. A trustee may be appointed if a debtor requests that one be appointed or another party files a motion and the court determines that a trustee should be in charge of managing the debtor’s affairs.


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