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FAQs

  • 341(A) Meeting Of Creditors, What Is It And Who Must Attend?

    A) Purpose of 341(a) Meeting - Soon after a bankruptcy case is filed, a meeting is held so that creditors and the trustee can ask questions about the debtor’s financial situation. This meeting is required by Bankruptcy Code section 341(a) and the meeting is presided over by either the trustee assigned to the case and/or a representative of the U.S. Trustee’s Office.

    B) Required Attendance – A debtor who is an individual must attend the 341(a) Meeting in person and may have an attorney present. If a debtor is a corporation or partnership, the debtor’s attorney and a responsible officer of the business must attend the meeting. If a debtor does not attend the 341(a) Meeting, the bankruptcy case may be dismissed.

    C) Time, Location - The Clerk’s Office mails a notice of the date, time, and location of the 341(a) Meeting to the debtor and to all creditors whose mailing addresses were listed in the bankruptcy petition package. The notice is titled “Notice of Chapter 7/11/13 Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors, Deadlines.”

    PLEASE PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE ADDRESS OF THE LOCATION of the 341(a) Meeting, as the bankruptcy court address may be different from the address of the 341(a) meeting location.

    See list of 341(a) Meeting Locations

    Directions to 341(a) Meeting Locations

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • Attorney, Are All Debtors And Creditors Required To Have One?

    Business Debtor - A corporation, partnership, or unincorporated association may not file a bankruptcy petition or other court documents, or appear in court, without an attorney. See Local Bankruptcy Rule 9011-2(a).
     

    Individual Debtor or Creditor – An individual debtor or creditor is not required to have an attorney in order to file a bankruptcy petition, file other documents, or represent themselves at court hearings. This is true regardless of a chapter 7, chapter 11, or chapter 13 bankruptcy case. However, it is difficult for an individual to be aware of and protect all rights without the assistance of a competent bankruptcy attorney.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • Attorney, Can You Recommend A Good One?

    Attorneys -- The bankruptcy court is prohibited from directing you to a particular attorney.  View list of local county bar associations and regional bankruptcy law groups.

    Free or Low Cost Legal Assistance -- An individual debtor who is unable to afford an attorney may qualify for free legal representation. View list of phone numbers for low cost and free legal assistance.

    Friends or Bankruptcy Petition Preparers - The court often encounters debtors who cannot afford to pay an attorney to help them prepare bankruptcy forms. Sometimes a debtor pays a few hundred dollars to a "friend" to help file for bankruptcy. Often this is a mistake because there are many forms to fill out, many important deadlines, and many notices that a debtor will receive from the court. Often, this "friend" does not have access to the correct forms or gives bad advice to the debtor. Bad advice may be worse than waiting to file for bankruptcy because bad advice may result in a bankruptcy case getting dismissed. A debtor does not get a refund if the bankruptcy case is dismissed, and a debtor may not even get the relief that was hoped for.

    It is recommended that a debtor spend time on the court's website studying all of the required forms instead of relying on a person who may not be properly informed or educated in bankruptcy processes, or may not have the debtor's best interest in mind. An individual who cannot afford an attorney may come to the court before filing for bankruptcy and obtain a list of phone numbers for low-cost or free bankruptcy assistance. See Debtor Assistance Project for information.

     

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not A Bankruptcy Attorney?

    An Attorney Who does Not Regularly Practice Bankruptcy law is often involved in a bankruptcy adversary proceeding because the attorney was involved in a lawsuit filed pre-petition or the attorney represented a creditor or had an existing relationship with another party in the past. This can present a significant learning curve for an attorney; however, the court expects that all attorneys appearing in adversary proceedings be informed of court procedures, statutes and rules. Inexperience with bankruptcy law is not a valid excuse for filing documents late or requesting a continuance of a court proceeding due to lack of preparation. An attorney should set aside time to become informed, to timely communicate with opposing attorneys, to file documents on time, and to prepare for court proceedings. If necessary, consult with a bankruptcy attorney or hire a bankruptcy attorney as co-counsel.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not Admitted To Practice In The Central District Of California?

    An Attorney Who is Not Admitted to Practice in the Central District of California can still represent a creditor in court by following the procedure to become admitted to the district court for the Central District of California. For more information, see Attorney Admission Requirements. All attorneys should read and shall be familiar with the Local Bankruptcy Rules on appearing in adversary proceedings, especially LBR 2090-1.

     

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Attorney, What If Mine Is Not Licensed In California?

    An Attorney Who is Not Licensed in California can still represent a creditor in this court by obtaining court approval to appear pro hac vice.  It may be difficult for the attorney to provide legal services due to travel and because in certain scenarios telephonic appearances at court hearings are not allowed. A local attorney must also be designated as co-counsel. All attorneys should read the Local Bankruptcy Rules, especially LBR 2090-1.

    Download Form: Application of Non-Resident Attorney to Appear in a Specific Case
    Download Form: Order on Application of Non-Resident Attorney to Appear in a Specific Case

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • Automatic Stay, What Is It And Does It Protect A Debtor From All Creditors?

    Automatic Stay -- Immediately after a bankruptcy case is filed, an injunction (called the "Automatic Stay") is generally imposed against certain creditors who want to start or continue taking action against a debtor or the debtor's property. Bankruptcy Code Section 362 discusses the Automatic Stay.

    Protection for the Debtor – It is important to read relevant statutes from the Bankruptcy Code and/or to consult with a competent bankruptcy attorney about the Automatic Stay because in some situations there is no Automatic Stay at all, or there is only an Automatic Stay if the debtor obtains a court order which imposes the Automatic Stay. There are many different time frames and deadlines, and creditors (such as child support services) may still take action to collect from a debtor.

    For information on Motions to Continue or Impose the Stay, see link below.

    Creditors Obtaining Relief From the Automatic Stay -- If a creditor properly files and serves a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay, and a bankruptcy judge grants the Motion, the Automatic Stay will either be removed or modified so that the creditor can resume collection efforts against the debtor.

    For information on Motions for Relief from the Automatic Stay, see link below.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

    See Also:
    Documents, What Do Debtors File To Have The Stay Imposed Or Continued?
    Relief From The Automatic Stay, How Do Creditors File This?

  • Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?

    An Adversary Proceeding is Different From the Main Bankruptcy Case - The main bankruptcy case involves a debtor and the creditors of that debtor, and the main bankruptcy case has its own separate electronic docket and case number. An "Adversary Proceeding" in bankruptcy court has the same meaning as a lawsuit in other courts. This means that one or more "plaintiff(s)" file a "complaint" against one or more "defendant(s)." In many situations an adversary proceeding is required if a plaintiff wants to obtain a particular type of relief. Consult Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure Rule 7001 to determine if a particular type of relief requires an adversary proceeding.

    When an adversary proceeding is commenced, the clerk's office starts a separate electronic docket to record all activity in the adversary proceeding. Each adversary proceeding has its own "adversary number" which can be found on the first page of the complaint, right below the main bankruptcy case number. An example is 2:AP:12-01501-VZ. This means an adversary proceeding (AP) filed in the Los Angeles division in calendar year 2012 and assigned to the Judge Vincent Zurzolo. After an adversary complaint is filed, the defendant has a specific deadline to file and serve a written response to the complaint, and then a series of pre-trial hearings/conferences take place until the lawsuit is settled, dismissed, or goes to trial.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

    See Also:
    Case Number, What Does It Mean?

  • Bankruptcy Case, How Do I Obtain Information About A Case?

    A) Computer Access

    • At the Clerk's Office of each division, free computer use is available to view electronic dockets.
    • On a computer, complete electronic docket information and images of all documents filed in a bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding may be retrieved via the CM/ECF PACER system (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) for a fee, and registration is required. 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) Voice Case Information System (VCIS) -- VCIS allows callers to access limited information (i.e., debtor, case number, judge, date filed, chapter, attorney, trustee, whether there are assets, and case status - such as discharge date and closed date) about a case, free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any touch tone telephone. VCIS is available for all divisional offices. The VCIS phone number is:

    (866) 222-8029

    C) Paper Copies – Very few records are now paper-based. Bankruptcy documents may be viewed in person at the Clerk's Office where the case was filed if the case has not been archived and if the documents are not on an electronic docket. In order to view or retrieve bankruptcy documents, you must have the bankruptcy case number of the debtor. If you do not have the case number, you may obtain it by using computers available to the public in the Records Section of each clerk's office location. If the case file is stored at the clerk's office, it may be viewed the same day unless it is being reviewed by another person at the time of the request. A valid government-issued picture identification card is needed to view a case file or docket. Some acceptable identification cards include a state driver's license or identification card, a U.S. passport, or a federal, state, county, or city employee card. Credit cards, car keys, or student identification cards are not acceptable forms of identification.

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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  • Bankruptcy Case, What Does A Debtor Have To Do After Starting A Case?

    After starting a bankruptcy case, a debtor must stay closely involved with all activities in a bankruptcy case until a discharge is received AND the bankruptcy case is closed. In some ways, bankruptcy is like a deal that Congress has made with a debtor. If a debtor follows the bankruptcy rules and meets certain financial tests, a debtor obtains debt relief. But if a debtor does not pay attention to the bankruptcy case and does not follow the bankruptcy rules, rights will be lost, benefits delayed, and if the bankruptcy case is closed without a discharge being entered, a debtor may have to pay extra to reopen the bankruptcy case to achieve the debt relief desired. In some situations a bankruptcy case may be dismissed. Some ways that a debtor must remain involved with the bankruptcy case are:

    A) Read all Mail Sent by the Court and Other Parties Related to the Bankruptcy Case – Pay close attention to all information sent by the court because a good way for a debtor to protect its rights is by staying informed about the bankruptcy case. For example:

    • The Court may notify a debtor that certain forms were not filed, and there will be a deadline for filing the forms to avoid dismissal of the case. Generally all information is required to be filed no later than 14 days after a bankruptcy case was opened, and if not filed, the bankruptcy case may be dismissed with an order barring the debtor from filing again for a specific period of time (i.e., 180 days or more).
    • A creditor may file a lawsuit to have its debt deemed non-dischargeable, and it is imperative that the complaint be answered within thirty (30) days of a summons being issued by the court.
    • A creditor may file a motion asking the judge to allow the creditor to take action against the debtor. The written notice of motion will indicate the deadline for filing a written response, usually fourteen (14) days before the hearing. 

    B) Notify the court of any change in mailing address -- If a debtor has a change of mailing address, it is the debtor's responsibility to promptly file a change of address form so that the Clerk's Office, trustee, and creditors know where to mail documents to the debtor. 

    Download Form: Change of Address  (The debtor should also mail a copy of the change of address form to the trustee, U.S. Trustee, and all creditors.)

    C) Understand the Concept of Due Process for all Parties – Due Process means that all parties must have the opportunity to prepare for the court hearing before the court makes a ruling. To prepare for a court hearing, a party must have time to prepare and review issues so that the party can determine the right action to take or which arguments to address. Bankruptcy court is not like television court programs. It is not appropriate to surprise the judge or surprise the trustee or creditor by showing up at a hearing with new witnesses or new evidence. The court only becomes involved when there are two sides that need a resolution. This means that the court AND the other party must be allowed to prepare for a court hearing. Therefore:

    • A debtor must be presented with evidence in time to respond with its own evidence;
    • A trustee or creditor must be presented with evidence in time to respond with its own evidence; and
    • The court must be provided with evidence from all parties far enough in advance of a court hearing so that the court can properly review and consider all arguments and evidence.
       

    D) Follow all Deadlines for Filing Documents and Submitting Evidence – When court hearings are scheduled or when the clerk's office is preparing to take action, a debtor will be sent a notice by the court, the trustee, or a creditor. The notice will clearly state the deadline for completing the action required, such as filing a document with the court, filing a written response to a motion, and/or mailing the response to the trustee or creditor. Therefore, pay close attention to deadlines for filing documents, deadlines for filing evidence to support a legal argument, and making court appearances because there may be serious financial consequences.

    • If there is a deadline for filing a document or other evidence (and serving it on the opposing party), that deadline is the date the document must be received by the court. If a debtor mails a document to the court, generally allow at least three business days so that it is timely received. The postmark date does not count. Generally, documents and evidence must be filed with the court AND mailed to the other party fourteen (14) days before a hearing.
    • Judges will generally not allow anyone to argue facts and the law at a hearing if the arguments were not written and timely filed and served on the opposing party.
    • Following deadlines gives the opposing party confidence that the debtor is involved and is acting responsibly and participating in the process. Communication is a good way to get the opposing party to be patient and work collaboratively.

    E) Promptly Communicate With Attorney – If a debtor has an attorney, and the attorney contacts the debtor about a court date or other papers that need to be filed, the debtor should call the attorney immediately. Do not wait until the last minute, as there are court deadlines that must be complied with, and it is not reasonable to expect the attorney to meet the deadline without a debtor's cooperation and information. Just because a debtor has an attorney does not mean that the court will reset hearing dates or give extra time to submit evidence and file documents. Failure to meet court deadlines or be present at court hearings can result in a bankruptcy case being dismissed or in the court granting a motion in favor of a creditor, EVEN IF A DEBTOR HAS AN ATTORNEY.

    F) Attend the Mandatory 341(a) Meeting of Creditors – Within thirty (30) to forty-five (45) days after a bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor must show up at the Office of the United States Trustee so that a trustee and creditors can ask questions about the debtor's financial situation. This meeting is required under section 341(a) of the Bankruptcy Code and is called a 341(a) Meeting of Creditors. The clerk's office mails a notice that contains the date, time, and location of the 341(a) Meeting.

    G) Attend all Court Hearings – Most court hearings are scheduled because a trustee or creditor filed a motion. If the court sets a hearing date to rule on a motion, the debtor should timely respond to the motion AND attend the hearing, regardless of whether or not the debtor has an attorney. 

    • At a court hearing, the judge generally will explain the ruling to a debtor, and if the debtor has filed a written motion or response, the judge will allow the debtor to state the debtor's position on the motion.
    • If a debtor has an attorney, this is an excellent time to talk with the attorney before and after the court hearing. Often a debtor has no defense to the motion. However, attending a court hearing is a good method for understanding the judge's ruling.
    • Often a debtor is not represented by an attorney, and therefore the debtor may need to talk with the judge to understand the impact of a ruling. This is important because often a judge's ruling will be made in a simple order that either "denies" or "grants" a motion, without any other explanation or reasoning. A debtor will NOT be able to obtain an explanation by calling the judge's staff, calling clerk's office staff, or writing a letter to the judge.

    H) Be Honest – Never hide information from the court or trustee and never be untruthful about details of financial condition. The bankruptcy case trustee, U.S. Trustee, or other parties can ask the court to deny a discharge of debts if a debtor provides false information. This may result in the loss of property and dismissal of a bankruptcy case without a discharge and loss of the bankruptcy case filing fee. The debtor may have transferred or given property to a friend or relative before or after the bankruptcy case was filed, and the court or trustee has the right to examine such transactions. Do not hide this information, as the bankruptcy court process is designed to benefit all creditors in a certain priority and plan for fairness. Sometimes property must be returned to the bankruptcy estate so that it can be distributed in accordance with these rules, and hiding information can be considered bankruptcy fraud and may result in criminal prosecution.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
    Hearing, Do All Motions Require One?
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?

  • Bankruptcy Case, What If The One I Am Interested In Has Been Archived?

    Cases closed for one year or more may be archived at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Perris, California. To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's Office in your division.

    To retrieve case information or copies of documents from NARA, you must first obtain the Accession Number, Location Number, and Box Number from the clerk's office where the bankruptcy case was filed. You may obtain this information in person, by phone, or by writing to the Records Department of the court division where the bankruptcy case was filed. You may then contact NARA directly or pay a fee to the clerk's office to retrieve the case for you. When you make your request to the clerk's office, the fee will be identified.

    Instructions for ordering from NARA.
     

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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  • Bankruptcy Code, What Is It And Do Other Rules Apply In Bankruptcy Cases?

    Bankruptcy Code - The Bankruptcy Code is a collection of statutes that govern the rights and duties of individuals, businesses, trustees, and attorneys that are involved in a bankruptcy case. These statutes will often be cited in a bankruptcy case by parties who are discussing various rights and duties. The Bankruptcy Code is also called "Title 11 of the United States Code" or "11 U.S.C."

    A copy of the Bankruptcy Code is available in law libraries, may be purchased from the Government Printing Office or some law bookstores or viewed online.

    Bankruptcy Procedure- Procedural rules regarding bankruptcy cases are found in the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure ("FRBP") and Local Bankruptcy Rules for the Central District of California (LBR). Individual judges may also have their own procedures, forms and instructions.

    Related Laws – Other laws of federal, state, or municipal governments may be applicable in a bankruptcy case because there are many situations that a debtor may be in at the time a bankruptcy case is filed. Examples are family law, contracts, real estate transactions, unsecured loans, taxes, medical situations, personal injury, etc. It is recommended to consult a bankruptcy attorney to discover which rules apply to the situation.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy Form, What Happens If A Wrong Form Is Used?

    It is a debtor’s duty to ensure that the correct version of a document is filed with the bankruptcy court. If a debtor discovers that the wrong version was filed, that debtor should fill out the correct version together with the court-approved Amendment Form, and file them both with the court. The Amendment Form will be listed separately on the electronic bankruptcy case docket and lets the trustee and creditors know that a new version of a form has been filed. Sometimes the court will send a notice to a debtor, which points out that an incorrect version of a form has been filed and sets the deadline to file the correct version.

     

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy Forms, What Are The Names Of The Various Forms?

    Petition Package – This is a compilation of all forms required to start a particular chapter bankruptcy case.

    Petition – The document called a "Petition" is the official request to open a bankruptcy case, and the Petition contains basic information about a debtor's contact information, attorney, chapter number, and signature.

    Other Forms – While a Petition opens a bankruptcy case, this is only the beginning of the process. Approximately thirty (30) more documents are required so that the court and trustee knows how to properly treat a debtor and the debtor's financial situation:

    These documents have various titles including: "Schedules" "Exhibits" and then a combination of other forms titled "Statements," "Declarations," "Summary," "Disclosure," "Verification," "Notice," "Debtor's Certification," "Plan" (chapter 13 only), and "Venue Disclosure" (chapter 11 only). It requires time and organization to fill out all of the forms and be educated on the bankruptcy process, so please budget enough time to gather the information and complete the petition package documents before you need to file a bankruptcy case.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy Forms, Where Can I Find The Updated Petition And Forms?

    To read and download free copies of the petition package (a petition, schedules, statements, declarations and forms) for bankruptcy chapters 7, 11, and 13. The format of these documents is updated often, so please verify that you are using the latest version. Also, make sure to file all of the documents that pertain to the bankruptcy chapter you are filing (7, 11, or 13). Also, make sure that all papers are signed wherever a signature is called for.

    Courthouse Filing Window - A package of the forms may also be purchased from the Clerk's Office.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy Petition Package, Do Debtors Need To Send Anyone A Copy?

    A debtor does not need to send a copy of its bankruptcy petition package to any creditors because the court will mail a notice of the bankruptcy case to all creditors listed in the debtor’s bankruptcy petition package. However, a debtor may wish to call or write to creditors who are taking action against a debtor (e.g. foreclosure, lawsuits, daily phone calls), or an agency that is executing on a judgment (e.g. sheriff). If so, a debtor should provide the creditor or sheriff with a bankruptcy case number or a conformed copy of the front page of the bankruptcy petition package.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy Petition Package, How Many Copies Of This Must Be Filed?

    FOR DOCUMENTS FILED AT THE COURTHOUSE OR MAILED TO THE COURTHOUSE

    Bankruptcy Petition Packages

    • Chapter 7 petition and schedules: Original only.
    • Chapter 11 petition and schedules: Original only.
    • Chapter 13 petition and schedules: Original only.

    All subsequent documents: The original document and one copy.

    If a debtor or party wishes to have a “filed” stamped copy of the petition or other document, then one additional copy is required.

    To have the court mail a “filed” stamped copy back to your address, a self-addressed, stamped envelope must be submitted with the extra copy with sufficient postage to cover the cost of mailing the “filed” copy.

    FOR DOCUMENTS FILED USING CM/ECF - For bankruptcy petition packages and other documents that are filed using CM/ECF, one copy of that document must also be delivered the same day to the intake section of the clerk’s office by mail or personal delivery. The copy must be accompanied by a copy of the CM/ECF receipt, called a “Notice of Electronic Filing” or “N.E.F."  See the Court Manual.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Bankruptcy, Why File?

    A) An individual generally files for bankruptcy in order to obtain one or more of the following benefits:

    1. have certain debts discharged completely or sort out which debts are dischargeable from those debts which will still be owed;
    2. receive extra time to pay debts;
    3. receive a break from creditor calls while debt relief is arranged;
    4. have the assistance of a trustee to pursue lawsuits or other claims that the debtor owns so that the money obtained can be used to pay creditors; or
    5. eliminate certain judgment liens if those liens impair an exemption.

     

    B) A business files for bankruptcy to obtain similar benefits, including the possibility of operating the business while debt relief is arranged. A business other than a sole proprietorship is not entitled to receive a discharge of debts in a chapter 7 case.

    There are negative consequences of filing for bankruptcy, and these may outweigh the benefits. For example, a potential debtor may need to resolve one debt (such as a mortgage), but if the home does not have any equity, there may not be any benefit to filing for bankruptcy. It is highly recommended that an individual or business owner who is considering filing for bankruptcy consult with a bankruptcy attorney to learn how a bankruptcy may affect its financial situation.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Case Number, What Does It Mean?

    When a bankruptcy case is filed, the clerk’s office starts an electronic docket to record all activity in the case and assigns the bankruptcy case a unique case number (combination of letters and numbers). Sometimes the Clerk’s Office will use a longer sequence of numbers and letters, and sometimes the clerk’s office will use a shorter sequence. A debtor, trustee, and other parties should use only the shorter sequence.

    A) Shortened Number of a Bankruptcy Case – A debtor, trustee, and other parties should use a shortened number when filing subsequent documents such as amended forms, motions, responses, adversary proceedings, proofs of claim, etc. The shortened number contains only the division, the year the bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding was filed, the five digit number of the bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding, and the two letters for the judge assigned to the case. When the court prepares orders after a judge makes a ruling, the shortened number will be found on the first page of the order. An example of a Shortened Number is 2:12-98751-VZ – This means that the bankruptcy case was filed in the Los Angeles Division in 2012 and was assigned to the Honorable Vincent Zurzolo.

    B) Complete Number of a Bankruptcy Case - The Complete Number is inserted by the clerk’s office on the electronic docket, the Notice of Bankruptcy Case, and Notice of Electronic Filing (“NEF”) receipts that CM/ECF users receive when a document is filed on the electronic docket. A complete bankruptcy case number consists of the court division in which the case was filed, the year of filing, the type of case, five additional digits, and the initials of the judge assigned to the case. An example of a Complete Number is: 2:11-BK-12345-SK, which indicates that the case was filed in the Los Angeles Division in 2011, is a bankruptcy case (not an adversary proceeding), is number 12345 in that year’s sequence, and is assigned to the Honorable Sandra R. Klein.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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  • Chapters Of The Bankruptcy Code, What Are The Different Types?

    The common chapters of the Bankruptcy Code are:

    CHAPTER 7 - Chapter 7 refers to a "liquidation" bankruptcy and can be used by an individual to obtain a discharge of many debts without making payments in the future. It may also be used by a business that wishes to liquidate its business assets under the protection of the bankruptcy court.

    A trustee is appointed to take control of certain asserts of the debtor and to sell or distribute these assets for the benefit of creditors. A trustee can also recover certain assets that have already been distributed and bring those assets back into the bankruptcy estate.

    Creditors generally have the right to file "claims" which identify the amount of money owed and the documents supporting the claim. In some situations may be able to file a written request (motion) to the court for an order allowing the creditor to take back a residence, automobile, or other property.

    CHAPTER 11 - Chapter 11 is often called the "reorganization chapter," and it allows a corporation, partnership, or individual to reorganize property and debts without liquidating all assets. The basic goal is for a debtor to retain control of property and present a "Plan of Reorganization" for repaying creditors. If the creditors accept the Plan of Reorganization, and the court approves the plan, a debtor is able to reorganize personal, financial, or business affairs.

    A trustee may be appointed if a motion is filed with the court and the court agrees that a trustee is needed to manage the affairs of the debtor.

    Creditors have the right to file "claims" which identify the amount of money owed and the documents supporting the claim. The can also object to a debtor's plan proposal, and in some situations file a written request (motion) for an order allowing the creditor to take back a residence, automobile, or other property.

    CHAPTER 13 -- Chapter 13 refers to reorganization of debts by an individual who has regular income and debts that are below certain statutory limits. A Chapter 13 debtor proposes a "Chapter 13 Plan" which proposes a repayment schedule. The plan essential identifies details for the debtor to retain control of property, keeping up with current debts, and repay at least some of the past due debts.

    A trustee is appointed to monitor activity in the case and report to the court on whether or not the debtor is meeting obligations. If a debtor is not meeting obligations, the trustee or a creditor can ask the court to dismiss the bankruptcy case. If a debtor's income rises, the trustee or a creditor can ask the court to increase the amounts paid to creditors.

    Creditors have the right to file "claims" which identify the amount of money owed and the documents supporting the claim. The can also object to a debtor's plan proposal, and in some situations file a written request (motion) for an order allowing the creditor to take back a residence, automobile, or other property.

    Basics of bankruptcy law.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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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.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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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.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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

     

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.
     

    FAQ Type:
    General Info

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    Before Filing Bankruptcy

    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

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

    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.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

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    No Related FAQs

  • 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.

    FAQ Type:
    After Filing Bankruptcy

    See Also:
    Bankruptcy Case Vs. Adversary Proceeding, What Is The Difference?
    Motion And Notice Of Motion, What Is It And Must A Response Be Filed?

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