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Frequently Asked Questions

Answers

What are the Federal Holidays?

  • New Year's Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Birthday
  • President's Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Veteran's Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

Do I need an attorney to file for bankruptcy?

While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case "pro se," that is, without the assistance of an attorney, it is recommended that a person considering bankruptcy consult with an attorney prior to filing a case. The court is not able to give legal advice or help you fill out the forms. For more information about referral of an attorney, you can contact your local North Dakota Bar Association Lawyer Referrals numbers 701-255-1406 or 800-932-8880

Can the Clerk's Office give legal advice?

No, pursuant to 28 United States Code § 955.

A bankruptcy case is a legal proceeding affecting the rights of debtors, creditors and other parties in interest. Pursuant to 28 United States Code § 955, the Clerk's Office staff is prohibited from giving information which may be characterized as legal advice or assisting with preparation of the forms.

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a way for people or businesses who owe more money than they can pay right now (a "debtor") to either work out a plan to repay the money over time under Chapter 11, 12 or 13, or for most of the bills to be wiped out ("discharged"), as in a chapter 7 case. While the debtor is either working out the plan or the trustee is gathering the available assets to sell, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. When the bankruptcy petition is filed, you are immediately protected from your creditors.

What are the consequences of filing for bankruptcy?

Depending on a debtor's financial situation and reasons for filing, the consequences of filing for bankruptcy protection may outweigh the benefits.  The following information is intended as a summary only. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in order to determine the rights and obligations that apply to your individual situation. Those considering bankruptcy should be aware of the following:

  1. Not all debts are dischargeable. Ex:  Secured creditors retain some rights which may permit them to seize property, even after a discharge is granted.  Spousal and child support obligations and most tax debts are not dischargeable.
  2. Within 14 days of the filing of a bankruptcy petition, schedules of the debtor's assets and liabilities must be filed. Failure to timely file the appropriate schedules may result in dismissal of the bankruptcy case.
  3. If a case is not dismissed and a discharge is entered by the court, the debtor is prohibited from being granted another discharge under chapters 7 and 11 within eight years.
  4. Fraudulent information or acts by the debtor are grounds for denial of a discharge and may be punishable as a criminal offense.

What is a joint petition?

A joint petition is the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual's spouse. Only people who are married on the filing date may file a joint petition. Unmarried persons, corporations and partnerships must each file a separate case. If you are an individual and have a business which is not a partnership, corporation, or business trust that is a registered entity in a state or foreign country, you should list the business as a "dba" (doing business as) on your petition. However, yours will not be considered a joint petition because the business is not an independently-recognized legal entity.

What does the Clerk's Office do?

The Clerk's Office provides a variety of services to the bankruptcy judges, attorneys, and the public. The Clerk's Office staff provides clerical and administrative support to the court by filing and maintaining case-related papers, sending notices, and setting hearings. The services provided by the Clerk's Office to attorneys and the public include responding to requests for information and making copies of papers in bankruptcy court files.

What is a bankruptcy trustee?

In chapter 7, 12, and 13 cases and in some chapter 11 cases, a case trustee is assigned by the court to administer the bankruptcy proceedings.

Who is the United States Trustee? What is the function of the U.S. Trustee?

The Office of the U.S. Trustee is an Executive Branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice.

The U.S. Trustee is responsible for appointing trustees to administer bankruptcy cases and setting the First Meeting of Creditors (§341 Meetings) dates and times. The staff also monitors the bankruptcy cases to see if bankruptcy fraud has occurred. They are prohibited from providing legal advice.

What are Local Rules? How do I get a copy of them

The rules governing practice in the Bankruptcy Court in North Dakota in addition to the Federal Bankruptcy Rules. ND Local Rules can be obtained from the clerk's office or you may download them from this site for free.

What documents do I need to start a bankruptcy?

A complete list of the documents and forms necessary to start a bankruptcy case under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code is listed under the filing requirements section of this web site.

If you need to start your case quickly, you can file only those documents indicated as minimum documents required for filing. All additional documents must be filed within the time indicated. Your failure to timely file additional required documents or seek an extension of time to do so may result in dismissal of your case.

The clerk's office does not supply Official Bankruptcy Forms or sample plans. However, Official Bankruptcy Forms may be downloaded from this web site under Forms.

Type the information on the forms, if possible.

Where is the court located?

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
655 1st Avenue N
Suite 210
Fargo, ND 58102-4932

How much are the court fees to file a bankruptcy

See Court Fee Schedule

What does it mean if a case is dismissed?

A dismissal order concludes the case. Upon dismissal, the "automatic stay" ends and creditors may start to collect debts, unless a discharge is entered before the dismissal and is not revoked. An order of dismissal itself will not free the debtor from any debt. Often, a case is dismissed when the debtor fails to do something he/she must do (such as show up for the creditor's meeting, or pay the filing fee), or if it is in the best interests of the creditors. Unless the debtor appeals the order or seeks reconsideration of the order within ten (14) days after entry of the order, the Clerk will automatically close the case.

What is a reaffirmation agreement?

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by which a bankruptcy debtor becomes legally obligated to pay all or a portion of an otherwise dischargeable debt. Such an agreement must generally be filed within sixty (60) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors.

Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law.

What is redemption?

Redemption allows an individual debtor (not a partnership or a corporation) to keep tangible, personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use by paying the holder of a lien on the property the amount of the allowed secured claim on the property, which typically means the value of the property. Otherwise, in order to retain the property, the debtor would have to pay the entire amount of the secured creditor's debt or enter into a reaffirmation agreement and become legally obligated on the debt again. The property redeemed must be claimed as exempt or abandoned.

What are claims? How are claims filed?

In the broadest sense, a claim is any right to payment held by a person or company against the debtor(s) and the debtor's bankruptcy estate. A claim does not have to be a past due amount but can include an anticipated sum of money which will come due in the future.

The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor's claim is called a proof of claim. Under the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, with limited exceptions, claims filed by creditors, except governmental units, in chapter 7, 12 and 13 cases must be filed within ninety (90) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. Claims of governmental units must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the date the petition was filed.

What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?

If a creditor continues to attempt to collect a debt after the bankruptcy is filed in violation of the automatic stay, you should immediately notify the creditor in writing that you have filed bankruptcy. Provide them with either the case name, number, and filing date, or a copy of the petition that shows it was filed. If the creditor still continues to attempt to collect, the debtor may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor to obtain a specific order from the court prohibiting the creditor from taking further collection action, and if the creditor is willfully violating the automatic stay, the court can hold the creditor in contempt of court and punish the creditor by fine or incarceration. Any such legal action brought against the creditor will be complex and will normally require representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.

How can I get information about a case (debtor's name, case number, chapter)?

  • VCIS (Voice Case Information System) Available 24 hours a day - 866-222-8029
  • PACER (Public Access To Court Electronic Records) A web-based format that allows anyone with internet access and a PACER login from the court to access official court records via the internet at https://ecf.ndb.uscourts.gov
  • Clerk's office 8:00 - 4:30 (701-297-7100)

What debts are dischargeable?

All debts are dischargeable except for those listed in 11 United States Code § 523.

How do I find out who the trustee is in a case?

The Court prints the name of the trustee in a Chapter 7, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case at the top of the case docket and on many of the forms. You may obtain the trustee's name by contacting the Clerk's Office.

Are bankruptcy proceedings public information?

Yes, once a bankruptcy petition is filed, all information submitted regarding the debtor or entity becomes a matter of public record, no matter what the outcome of the case.

How many years will a bankruptcy show on my credit report?

7 to 10 years

How do I get a bankruptcy removed from the credit report?

The bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 United States Code Section 605, 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 years from the date the bankruptcy case is filed. Other bad credit information is removed after seven years. The larger credit reporting agencies belong to an organization called the Associated Credit Bureaus. The policy of the Associated Credit Bureaus is to remove chapter 11 and chapter 13 cases from the credit report after seven years to encourage debtors to file under these chapters. You may contact the Federal Trade Commission, Bureau of Consumer Protection, Education Division, Washington, D.C. 20580. The telephone number is (202) 326-2222. That office can provide further information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. For information on credit practices, contact (202) 326-3224.

What is the electronic case file (ECF) project?

ECF is an ongoing automation project that allows attorneys to file petitions and other electronic documents with the designated United States courts through the Internet by using a standard web browser. This results in a completely electronic "case file" that does not have any papers associated with it at the court. Therefore, all case information is available for examination electronically through the Internet, again through the use of a standard web browser. It is our expectation that ECF will eventually replace the court's current automation system and will become the primary method for filing documents and receiving case information. However, pro se parties or individuals without internet access will still be able to file and retrieve documents and information by the traditional paper, VCIS and PACER methods.

What are the benefits and features of using ECF?

There are a number of significant benefits and features.
Registered attorneys will be able to file documents with the court 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Complete case information will be available to attorneys, parties and the general public through the Internet. This will include the ability to view the full text of all filed documents on the system and the option of receiving notices electronically in ECF cases since the project uses Internet standard software. The out-of-pocket cost of participation for attorneys is typically very low, and there are no additional fees charged by the court for users of this service.

How do I know if a Credit Counseling Agency has been certified by the United States Trustee?

The United States Trustee maintains a listing on their web site of those Credit Counseling Agencies and Financial Management Courses within the District of North Dakota that have been certified. The Clerk's Office provides a link to that listing on its BAPCPA page located at www.ndb.uscourts.gov.

I'm filing my bankruptcy case without an attorney, can I pay my filing fee by check? What about with a credit card?

The only acceptable forms of payment by debtors for filing fees are money orders, cashier checks or cash.

What if I can't afford to pay the full filing fee at this time? Can I pay in installments?

Rule 1006 does allow for the payment of the filing fee in installments. An application to pay filing fee in installments can be filed with the bankruptcy petition and approved by the court. The total number of payments or installments shall not exceed four, and the final installment must be paid within 120 days of the filing of the petition.

How much do I have to pay for each installment?

Pursuant to Local Rule 1006-1 a minimum of $100.00 must accompany the initial filing.

If my case gets dismissed, or I change my mind about filing, will my filing fee be refunded?

No. By statute, filing fees cannot be refunded.

If I don't attend the required Financial Management training, will I still receive my discharge?

No. If you are an individual debtor in a Chapter 7 case, you are required to attend Financial Management training before the court will enter a discharge in your case.

How do I know if I qualify to file In Forma Pauperis (IFP)?

First, you should be aware that the ability to proceed In Forma Pauperis is available only in Chapter 7 cases. Secondly, IFP status is available only to a Chapter 7 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) (link available on BAPCPA page at www.ndb.uscourts.gov) applicable to a family of the size involved; and (b) is unable to pay that fee in installments. Requests to proceed IFP must be filed, using the Official Fee Waiver Application Form (available at www.ndb.uscourts.gov) at the same time as the petition. This application will be approved or denied by the judge presiding over your case.

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