Information for Debtors Without an Attorney
Before You File
The following information is for individuals who are considering filing for bankruptcy without an attorney, also referred to as pro se debtors. Due to the complexity of filings and the long-term financial and legal consequences of filing bankruptcy, individuals are encouraged to consult with a competent attorney. Only attorneys (not petition preparers, the Clerk’s Office, judges, or chambers staff) can give legal advice.
Whether or not a debt is discharged in bankruptcy depends on many factors. A Judge must decide. The proper way to ask for a ruling from the Judge is by filing an Adversary Proceeding. The adversary proceeding complaint must follow a specific format. One of the most common types of adversary proceedings is a complaint to determine whether a particular debt will be discharged. The Bankruptcy Code section for such complaints is 11 U.S.C. §523. Such complaints are highly technical and require the plaintiff to allege specific information that meets one of the grounds for declaring that a debt is dischargeable or not dischargeable. For example, if a creditor wants the Court to declare that the debtor does not get to discharge its debt because of the debtor’s fraud, that fraud must be stated in the complaint. If a debtor wants to discharge a student loan, then the debtor must plead sufficient facts to show that the debtor will suffer “undue hardship” if required to repay the loan. A debtor without an attorney should conduct some research to learn what “undue hardship” means as to student loan debt.
Most debtors who file a bankruptcy petition, and many of their creditors, know very little about the bankruptcy process. Bankruptcy Basics is designed to provide debtors, creditors, judiciary employees, and the general public with a basic explanation of bankruptcy and how it works. This glossary on bankruptcy terminology explains, in simple terms, many of the legal terms that are used in cases filed under the Bankruptcy Code.
What constitutes legal advice?
- Explaining the meaning of a particular statutory provision or rule
- Giving an interpretation of case law
- Explaining the result of taking or not taking an action in a case
- Helping you complete forms, or advising you regarding what is legally required when a form elicits information from you
- Telling you whether jurisdiction is proper in a case
- Telling you whether a complaint properly presents a claim
- Providing advice on the best procedure to accomplish a particular goal
- Applying a rule or statute
- Explaining who should receive proper notice or service
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy without an attorney, please carefully review the following resources before proceeding:
- In Debt?
- Indiana Foreclosure Resources
- Federal Foreclosure Resources
- Bankruptcy Overview
- Credit Counseling Warning!
- Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney
Bankruptcy Legal Help Line
2nd and 4th Wednesdays
Noon to 1:00 p.m. EDT
|Heartland Pro Bono Council
151 N. Delaware St., #1800
Indianapolis, IN 46204
|Legal Services Organization of IN, Inc.
and Indiana District 14 Pro Bono Plan/Indiana
3303 Plaza Dr., #5
New Albany, IN 47150
|Legal Services of Indiana
|Louisville Bar Association
|MAI Legal Services
|Indiana State Bar Association
|Marion County Bar Association Pro Bono
617 Indiana Ave., #209
Indianapolis, IN 46204
ABI Pro Bono Resource Locator