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Frequently Asked Questions
What does the Clerk’s Office do?
The Clerk’s Office of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Georgia provides a variety of services to the bankruptcy judges, attorneys and the public. Clerk’s Office staff provide clerical and administrative support to the Court by filing and maintaining case-related papers, issuing process and writs, signing ministerial orders, collecting authorized fees, sending notices, entering judgments and orders, and settling 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.
Although Clerk’s Office staff cannot give you legal advice, the Clerk’s Office and the Court’s website at www.ganb.uscourts.gov. are sources for many forms, local rules, and other information.
Can Court staff give legal advice?
No. A bankruptcy case is a legal proceeding affecting the rights of debtors, creditors and other parties in interest. Judges’ staff and Clerk’s Office staff cannot engage in the practice of law or provide legal advice. Court staff will not offer any opinion as to the probable disposition of any pending matter before the Court and can only answer procedural questions.
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
Bankruptcy Code is the informal name for Title 11 of the United States Code (11 U.S.C. §§ 101-1330), the federal bankruptcy law. Legislation in Title 11 contains both substantive and procedural law for bankruptcy liquidation and rehabilitation cases. A copy of the Bankruptcy Code is available for review at the Clerk’s Office public counters, at any public library, or at the Court’s website. It can also be ordered from a publisher such as West or Collier’s or may be purchased at most bookstores.
What are the Bankruptcy Rules?
The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and accompanying Official Forms govern procedure in cases filed under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Bankruptcy Rules are available for review at the Clerk’s Office public intake counters, at any public library, or at the Court’s website. They can also be ordered from a publisher such as West or Collier’s or may be purchased at most bookstores.
What are the Local Rules?
The Local Rules are a set of additional procedural rules developed by the judges of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia. They supplement the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and are construed to be consistent with those Rules. The Local Rules are available for review on the Court’s website, see Local Rules & General Orders.
What is a bankruptcy trustee?
In all Chapter 7, 12, 13 and in some Chapter 11 cases, a case trustee is assigned. In Chapter 7 cases they are called “Panel Trustees.” In Chapter 12 and 13 cases they are called “Standing Trustees.” The Trustee’s job is to administer the bankruptcy estate, to make sure creditors receive as much money as possible, and to preside over the first meeting of creditors. The Trustee either collects and sells non-exempt estate property and distributes the sale proceeds to creditors as in a Chapter 7 case, or collects payments from the debtor and pays out money on a repayment plan, as in Chapter 13 cases. In some Chapter 11 cases, the debtor-in-possession is replaced by a Chapter 11 Trustee who administers the estate. The Trustee is not your attorney.
What is the role of the U.S. Trustee?
The United States Trustee (“U.S. Trustee”) is an officer of the U.S. Justice Department responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, estates, and case trustees, monitoring plans and disclosure statements, monitoring Chapter 11 creditors’ committees, monitoring fee applications, and performing other statutory duties. The U.S. Trustee is not a case trustee and does not administer any debtor's estate. For more information, visit www.justice.gov/ust/
How can I obtain information about a case?
Your lawyer, who likely is familiar with local court practice, is your best resource. Generally, all documents filed with a court are public records and are available through the clerk's office. By way of exception, some documents are sealed by special court order.
As the keeper of court records, the Clerk's Office responds to most inquiries on the status of a case once given the case number. In many courts, inquiries for information and requests to examine dockets, case files, exhibits, and other records are made at the intake area in the clerk's office. Inquiries often are made by phone. For more information, see Case Information.
What does it mean if a case is dismissed?
A dismissal order ends the case. In bankruptcy, a dismissal is an order removing a case from the Court’s docket, thereby also removing any protection of the law that the pending case might have occasioned, e.g., the automatic stay. A more complete explanation of the effect of dismissal may be found in the Bankruptcy Code at 11 U.S.C. §349.
How do I file for bankruptcy? Is there a charge?
A bankruptcy case is commenced by the filing of a petition. You must also file a statement of your assets and liabilities, and schedules listing your creditors. If you choose to file a bankruptcy petition without the assistance of an attorney, you can obtain the required forms at most stationery stores or at www.uscourts.gov.
Filing fees for bankruptcy cases vary, depending on the chapter of the bankruptcy code under which you file.