Frequently Asked Questions
DISCLAIMER: While the information presented below is accurate as of the date of publication, it should not be cited or relied upon as legal authority. It is highly recommended that legal advice be obtained from a bankruptcy attorney or legal association. For filing requirements, please refer to the United States Bankruptcy Code (title 11, United States Code), the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (Bankruptcy Rules), and the Local Rules for the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Finally, if you do not understand terms used in these questions and responses, many of them are defined in Bankruptcy Basics issued by the Administrative Office of the Courts. Click here to view the Bankruptcy Basics Video (10/24/08).
Click on any question below to view the answer.
What is a 341 meeting?
The meeting of creditors, or 341 Meeting, is required by Title 11 Section 341
of the Bankruptcy Code, and is arranged by the assigned case trustee. The debtor is questioned under oath by creditors, a trustee, examiner, or the U.S. Trustee about his/her financial affairs. Debtors have a duty to appear, testify under oath, and to be questioned by creditors at the 341(a) meeting. This meeting is held approximately 40 days after the new petition is filed. Failure to appear may result in dismissal of the case. If a continuance or change in the hearing date, time, or location is sought, the trustee assigned to the case, not the Court, must be contacted.
What is an Adversary Proceeding?
An Adversary Proceeding is a lawsuit arising in or relating to a bankruptcy case, filed by a party called a 'plaintiff' against a party called a 'defendant.' Adversary Proceedings are initiated by filing a document called a 'complaint' with the Court to resolve both federal and state law issues. Certain types of disputes cannot be handled by motion in the bankruptcy case, but instead require the commencement of an Adversary Proceeding. Bankruptcy Rule 7001 lists certain types of actions that require an Adversary Proceeding. Adversary Proceedings are governed for the most part by Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. These rules incorporate most of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and are designed to make practice before the bankruptcy and district Courts as similar as possible.
See also Filing an Adversary Complaint.
What is the Adversary filing fee?
As of November 2011, the filing fee for an Adversary proceeding is set at $293.00
How do I get copies? Or certified copies?
For cases filed since 2004, you may visit the Clerk's office and locate the case number and document number(s) at no cost on the public computer terminals. You may print the pages for a fee of $0.10 per page. You may also mail a written request, with a photocopy fee of $ 0.50 cents per page if you know the exact number of pages, case number and document number(s). If the document number or number of pages is unknown, first you will need to send a written request with a $30.00 search fee. Once you know the docket number and the number of pages, then you may mail a written request with a photocopy fee of $0.50 per page. If a certified copy is required, an additional fee of $11.00 will apply.
All written requests should include the case name, case number, filing date, and the title of the specific documents which you wish to have copied. In addition, please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. Mail your request to the Clerk's Office with a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) for return mailing.
The Court accepts exact change; debit cards; a bank cashier's check or money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. No personal checks or credit cards will be accepted from Debtor(s).
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
The informal name for title 11 of the United States Code (11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1330), is the Bankruptcy Code. The Code is a group of laws that establish the requirements for filing a bankruptcy case, determine the relative rights and responsibilities of debtors and creditors, and serves as the foundation for the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Other laws governing bankruptcy cases and proceedings are found in Title 28 of the United States Code.
Do I have to get an attorney to file bankruptcy?
While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case 'pro se,' that is, without the assistance of an attorney, it is extremely difficult to do so successfully. Hiring a competent attorney is highly recommended. For information about referral programs, contact your local bar association, or the Indiana (State) Courts.
What is bankruptcy?
Bankruptcy is a set of federal laws and rules that can help individuals and businesses who owe more debt than they can pay. In bankruptcy, the person, corporation, or partnership that owes money is called the debtor. Bankruptcy permits the debtor to work out a plan to repay some or all of the debt, to liquidate assets, or to have some of the debt forgiven (discharged) in an effort to obtain a "fresh start." The bankruptcy laws give the debtor protection and benefits not available outside of bankruptcy, such as requiring that creditors stop all collection efforts while the debtor is in bankruptcy, unless otherwise ordered by the Bankruptcy Court. In bankruptcy, a debtor must make full disclosure of all assets, liabilities, and other financial information, and must either (1) surrender non-exempt (protected) property for liquidation and distribution to creditors, or (2) formulate a plan providing creditors at least as much as they would receive if the assets were liquidated.
What is the difference among bankruptcy "chapters"?
Chapter 7: Often called the 'liquidation chapter,' Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors.
Chapter 9: Chapter 9 is available only to municipalities, and is a form of reorganization, not liquidation.
Chapter 11: Often called the 'reorganization chapter', Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize, without having to liquidate all assets. In filing a Chapter 11, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the Court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial or business affairs and again become a financially productive individual or business. Chapter 11 may also be used to sell an entire business.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12 is a reorganization bankruptcy and is similar to Chapter 13, but is available only to "Family Farmers" and "Family Fishermen."
Chapter 13: An individual with a regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debt can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to a Trustee for payment to creditors. If the Court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the Court's protection while repaying some of the debts as treated under the plan.
Chapter 15: Chapter 15 is a reorganization bankruptcy and deals specifically with cross-border insolvency: foreign companies with debts in the United States. Additional information may be found by going to: http://www.usCourts.gov/bankruptcyCourts.html
What is a motion?
A request by a litigant to a judge for a decision on an issue relating to the case. The party who is requesting an action is the movant and sets forth the grounds for the action requested. The party against whom the action is requested is the respondent.
What are office hours for the Bankruptcy Clerk?
The Indianapolis, Evansville New Albany and Terre Haute offices are open from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
What are Local Rules?
Local Rules govern all applicable proceedings brought in the Court. They proscribe details, actions, and formats required by the Court, and specific information about satisfying various requirements of the Code. Local Rules are specific to the District and Court in which they are created. Copies of the Indiana Southern District Local Rules are available here
May I speak to the Judge?
Federal law prohibits any "ex parte" or off the record contact with Judges in order to preserve the integrity of the Court, and to prevent the appearance of any impropriety or allegations of preferential treatment for any party.
What is a bankruptcy trustee?
The representative of the bankruptcy estate who exercises statutory powers, principally for the benefit of the unsecured creditors, under the general supervision of the Court and the direct supervision of the U.S. Trustee or bankruptcy administrator. The trustee is a private individual or corporation appointed in all chapter 7, chapter 12, and chapter 13 cases and some chapter 11 cases. The trustee's responsibilities include reviewing the debtor's petition and schedules and bringing actions against creditors or the debtor to recover property of the bankruptcy estate. In chapter 7, the trustee liquidates property of the estate, and makes distributions to creditors. Trustees in chapter 12 and 13 have similar duties to a chapter 7 trustee and the additional responsibilities of overseeing the debtor's plan, receiving payments from debtors, and disbursing plan payments to creditors.
What is the function of the U.S. Trustee's Office and where is it located?
The United States Trustee Program is a component of the Department of Justice that seeks to promote the efficiency and protect the integrity of the Federal bankruptcy system. To further the public interest in the just, speedy and economical resolution of cases filed under the Bankruptcy Code, the Program monitors the conduct of bankruptcy parties and private estate trustees, oversees related administrative functions, and acts to ensure compliance with applicable laws and procedures. It also identifies and helps investigate bankruptcy fraud and abuse in coordination with United States Attorneys, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other law enforcement agencies. The headquarters for the U.S. Trustee's Region 10 Office is Indianapolis and details are available on their website
What is the Bankruptcy Court?
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court is part of the federal judiciary. Each of the 94 federal judicial districts handles bankruptcy matters, and in almost all districts, bankruptcy cases are filed in the bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcy cases cannot be filed in state Court. Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start – by liquidating assets to pay their debts or by creating a repayment plan. Bankruptcy laws also protect troubled businesses and provide for orderly distributions to business creditors through reorganization or liquidation. For more information on Federal Courts and Bankruptcy, please visit U.S. Courts.gov.
What is an automatic stay?
An Automatic Stay is an injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and most collection activities against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed. Your attorney can explain what is exempt from an automatic stay.
What happens after I file bankruptcy?
How do I change an address?
For Non-Electronic Filers: An Address Change must be submitted in writing and signed by the filing party. You should clearly indicate the new address and the old address to minimize confusion.
Electronic Filers should review the Change of Address section in the Procedures Manual
How long does my bankruptcy stay on record with the credit bureaus?
The bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. Section 605, is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. The Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, can provide further information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. The telephone number is 202.326.2222 and the web site is www.ftc.gov
What is credit counseling?
Credit counseling generally refers to the "individual or group briefing" from a nonprofit budget and credit counseling agency that individual debtors must attend prior to filing under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. There are exceptions to the requirements for certain categories of debtors or exigent circumstances. The U.S. Trustee's Office provides a list of Approved Credit Counseling Providers
What is the financial management course?
In chapters 7 and 13 cases an individual debtor must complete an "instructional course in personal financial management" before a discharge is entered. There are exceptions to the requirements for certain categories of debtors, exigent circumstances, or if the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator have determined that there are insufficient approved credit counseling agencies available to provide the necessary counseling.
The U.S. Trustee's Office provides a list of Approved Financial Management Course
(debtor education) Providers
What is the creditor matrix?
A Creditor Matrix includes the name and address of each creditor in a bankruptcy case. It must be filed or presented electronically pursuant to Indiana Southern Bankruptcy Court Local Rule B-1007-1(b). A diskette or CD with the Creditor List file in TXT format must be submitted for bankruptcy cases filed non-electronically (on paper). For more information, go to the Procedures Manual
What is a discharge?
A release of a debtor from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Notable exceptions to dischargeability are taxes and student loans. A discharge releases a debtor from personal liability for certain debts known as dischargeable debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor or the debtor's property to collect the debts. The discharge also prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including through telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.
How do I know which debts are discharged?
The Discharge Order will explain which debts have been discharged. If the debtor loses or misplaces the discharge order, another copy can be obtained by contacting the clerk of the bankruptcy Court that entered the order. The clerk will charge a fee for searching the Court records and there will be additional fees for making and certifying copies. If the case has been closed and archived there will also be a retrieval fee, and obtaining the copy will take longer.
The discharge order may be available electronically. The PACER system provides the public with electronic access to selected case information through a personal computer located in many clerk's offices. The debtor can also access PACER. Users must set up an account to acquire access to PACER, and must pay a per-page fee to download and copy documents filed electronically. For more information, please visit the uscourts.gov website.
Will filing for bankruptcy stop my eviction?
Answering this question is legal advice and the Clerk's Office is prohibited by federal statute from providing legal advice. If you have any questions on how a bankruptcy filing affects enforcement of an eviction proceeding, please contact your local county sheriff's department or your legal advisor.
Can I get the filing fee waived?
The bankruptcy Court may waive the chapter 7 filing fee for an individual debtor who:
(a) has income less than 150 percent of the poverty guidelines last published by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) applicable to a family of the size involved; and
(b) is unable to pay that fee in installments. The Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Filing Fee (http://www.insb.usCourts.gov/WebForms/newlaw/waiver1.pdf) must be filed as a separate event, not included with the Voluntary Petition.
If the Application is granted "in full", the case will become In Forma Pauperis. This means that for the duration of the case, no filing fees are due from the debtor for the petition or any subsequent filings (e.g. for Amended Schedules). If the application is denied, or approved only in part, then the debtor may be responsible for paying all or some of the fees.
Where do I file for bankruptcy?
The Southern District of Indiana Bankruptcy Court has four Divisional Offices. You can find office hours, phone numbers and location details by clicking on the link office: Indianapolis. Terre Haute, Evansville and New Albany. Information about which office is assigned to your county is available here
How much are filing fees?
Fees vary depending on the type of case and item filed. For complete information, click here
What is the means test?
U.S. Code Title 11 Section 707(b)(2) of the Bankruptcy Code applies a "means test" to determine whether an individual debtor's chapter 7 filing could be presumed to be an abuse of the Bankruptcy Code, requiring dismissal or conversion of the case (generally to chapter 13). It also plays a role in determining how much a Chapter 13 debtor must pay as part of their plan. For more information, click here
What is a motion to lift automatic stay?
A request by a creditor to allow the creditor to take action against the debtor or the debtor's property that would otherwise be prohibited by the automatic stay.
What is a reaffirmation agreement?
An agreement by a chapter 7 debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt (such as an auto loan) after the bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral (i.e. the car) that would otherwise be subject to repossession. Form B-240AB
How do I obtain a refund of filing fee?
Request for refunds must be in the form of a motion and must be filed with the Court, either electronically or in writing. If submitted in writing by mail, the mailing address is: United States Bankruptcy Court, 46 East Ohio Street, Room 116, Indianapolis IN 46204 and if submitted in writing by person, the physical address is: 46 East Ohio Street, Room 116, Indianapolis, IN 46204.
Upon receipt of the motion, the order will be routed to the appropriate judge. If the refund is approved by the judge, a check will be mailed to the requestor, or a credit will be issued to the credit card account if the fee was paid by credit card.
What is the policy on refunds?
The Judicial Conference prohibits refunding fees due upon filing, even if the party filed the case in error, and even if the Court dismisses the case or proceeding. However, the clerk must refund any fee collected without authority. For example, the clerk has no authority to collect a fee to reopen a case unless the case is closed. Consequently, the clerk must refund a fee to reopen if the parties discover later that the case was open.
Refunding Fees Paid Electronically: The Court may refund CM/ECF electronic payments under certain circumstances. Contact the Financial Office at 317.229.3800, or via email at email@example.com.
What is a proof of claim?
A written statement and verifying documentation filed by a creditor that describes the reason the debtor owes the creditor money. The official form
can be submitted electronically by a creditor.
What is the judgment interest rate?
The post judgment rate is calculated and published by the US Treasury. For more information, click here
Who can I contact for legal advice?
Indiana Courts offers many resources for finding legal help. Click here
to access their web site. Also, a list of local resources is available under Legal Services under the Debtor tab.
Do I have to attend the Meeting of Creditors (341 meeting)?
Usually, the only formal proceeding at which a debtor must appear is the meeting of creditors, which is conducted by the Trustee. This meeting is informally called a "341 meeting " , referring to section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code. At the meeting, creditors can question the debtor about debts and property.
What does the case number mean?
An example case number of 10-00351-AJM-7 is broken down as 10 for the year of filing (in this case 2010); 00351 is the number of case; the three initials indicate the judge assigned; and 7 indicates the bankruptcy chapter in which the case was filed.
How can I get copies of a case that is several years old?
If the case was filed after 2004, the files are available electronically for printing. The PACER Service Center provides public access at 10 cents per page, with the fee waived if the quarterly total is under $15.00. Information available at www.pacer.gov
or at 1.800.676.6856. You may also access the files free at the clerk's office on public terminals, and pay $.10 per page to print. If the case is older and not available electronically, it may have been moved to the National Archives and Records Administration facility in the Chicago Area. You may request copies of the file directly from the National Archives in Chicago
How do I get a Certified Copy?
The fee for certification is $11.00 plus a $0.50 page fee . The Clerk's office must print/make the copies in order to certify them. The Court accepts exact change; debit cards; a bank cashier's check or money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. No personal checks or credit cards will be accepted from Debtor(s).
How do I get case information?
1. Voice Case Information System (VCIS) is a free service that allows callers to access case information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from any touch tone telephone. VCIS can be accessed by calling 866.222.8029. Just follow the voice instructions provided.
2. Internet Access Electronic case information and documents may be retrieved using a computer on the internet, via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records web site (PACER). For registration information, please call the PACER Service Center at 1.800.676.6856 or go to their web site at http://pacer.psc.usCourts.gov
. Registered agencies or individuals can access the PACER system for the Southern District of Indiana at http://ecf.insb.usCourts.gov
. There is also a national U.S. Party/Case Index available at http://pacer.login.usCourts.gov
. A fee of $.10 per page will be assessed, but fees totaling less than $10.00 per month will not be charged.
3. In Person Public access computers are available for use at no charge at the Clerk's Office. Bankruptcy documents may be viewed in person and retrieved for printing or copying. There is a per page fee for printing ($0.10) and copy services ($0.50). Exact change is required.
4. By Telephone You may call the office where the case was filed and speak to the Case Manager
about the case.
Where do I report a fraudulent filing?
The U.S. Trustee's office investigates possible bankruptcy fraud. Visit their website
Where can I find hearing information?
The hearings set in the Bankruptcy Court are available on the Calendar
. Note that the calendar is updated every night, however hearings may be cancelled, or rescheduled the following morning. If in doubt, please contact your attorney.
How do I dispute credit bureau reporting errors?
The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act
, 6 U.S.C. Section 605, is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. You may contact the Federal Trade Commission at 202.326.2222, or visit their web site at www.ftc.gov
to discuss corrections to your credit report.
What papers do I need to file for bankruptcy?
The requirement vary depending on the chapter in which the bankruptcy is filed, and upon individual circumstances. This is best answered by a competent attorney. A listing of all Required Lists, Schedules, Statements and Fees is posted here