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Information for Debtors Without an Attorney

Before You File When You File After You File FAQs FAQs

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?

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy without an attorney, please carefully review the following resources before proceeding:

Please feel free to contact any of the following resources to assist you in filing Bankruptcy without an attorney:

Bankruptcy Legal Help Line
(317) 269-1910
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

Legal Services
3303 Plaza Dr., #5
New Albany, IN 47150
Legal Services of Indiana
(812) 945-4123
(800) 892-2776
Louisville Bar Association
(502) 583-1801
MAI Legal Services
MAI Website
Indiana State Bar Association
(317) 639-5465
(800) 266-2581
ISBA Homepage
Marion County Bar Association Pro Bono
Referral System
617 Indiana Ave., #209
Indianapolis, IN 46204
ABI Pro Bono Resource Locator