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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  •   What is Bankruptcy?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
    Bankruptcy Basics | United States Courts

    Bankruptcy is a legal process through which people or other entities who cannot repay debts to creditors may seek relief from some or all their debts. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. This means that a bankruptcy case cannot be filed in a state court.

    Bankruptcy laws help people who can no longer pay their creditors get a fresh start by liquidating their 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. These procedures are covered under Title 11 of the United States Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”). The majority of cases are filed under the three main chapters of the Bankruptcy Code, which are Chapter 7, Chapter 11, and Chapter 13.

  •   Who can file a bankruptcy?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
    Bankruptcy Basics | United States Courts

    Almost anyone can file a bankruptcy case, though there are restrictions. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in making this decision, so you understand your rights and obligations.

  •   What is a Voluntary Petition?

    Frequently Used Bankruptcy Forms
    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/frequently-used-forms

    A voluntary petition is a petition or written request filed to start the bankruptcy proceeding.

  •   What is a Joint Petition?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-basics

    A joint petition is one bankruptcy petition filed by spouses, requiring the signatures of both people. Only people married on the date they file may file a joint petition. All their property and their debt will be handled together in this one joint case. Spouses seeking bankruptcy relief do not have to file a joint petition. Again, experienced legal counsel should be consulted to evaluate the legal consequences for each potential course of action.

  •   How Do I file a document with the Court?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/filing-without-attorney
    Bankruptcy Basics | United States Courts

    Documents may be filed with the Court via hand-delivery or by mailing the document to the Clerk’s Office of the division where the case was filed.

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/court-locations - Division links at the top.

  •   What does it mean if the case is dismissed?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/understanding_bankruptcy/faqs

    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 complete explanation of the effect of dismissal may be found in the Bankruptcy Code at 11 U.S.C. § 349.

  •   What does the Clerk’s Office do?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/understanding_bankruptcy/faqs

    The Clerk’s Office of the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Georgia provides many 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, 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 provide legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955, the Clerk’s Office and the Court’s website at www.ganb.uscourts.gov are sources for many forms, local rules, and other information.

  •   What are the Bankruptcy Rules? Where can I get a copy of the Rules?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/understanding_bankruptcy/faqs

    The Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (Bankruptcy Rules) and 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? Where can I get a copy of the Local Rules?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/local-rules-and-orders

    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 and are applicable to all bankruptcy cases filed in 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 the Bankruptcy Code? Where can I find a copy of the Code?

    The 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 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 US Trustee?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/understanding_bankruptcy/faqs

    The United States Trustee (“U.S. Trustee”) is an officer of the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for supervising the administration of bankruptcy cases, estates, and case trustees, and for 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 get information about a bankruptcy case?

    Frequently Asked Questions | Northern District of Georgia | United States Bankruptcy Court

    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.

  •   I received a notice that I filed a “deficiency pleading”, what does that mean?

    A Notice of Deficiency or a Miscellaneous Deficiency is a notice generated by the Clerk’s Office to notify filers of a requirement(s) not met by a filing.

  •   May Court staff give legal advice?

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/955

    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 offer no opinion on the probable disposition of any pending matter before the Court and can only answer procedural questions.

  •   What are the legal holidays?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/court-holidays

    The legal holidays prescribed by 5 U.S.C. § 6103. Holidays, occur on the days and dates in the following table. If the date on which any order, process, pleading or other matter due or made returnable on any of these holidays, the date is extended and continued to the following business day. This Court and the Clerk’s Office will be closed on these holidays:
     

Debtor Questions

  •   Where can I find bankruptcy forms?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/frequently-used-forms

    Official Bankruptcy and Local Bankruptcy Forms are available at United States Courts website. The Clerk's Office does not provide bankruptcy form kits or copies of the official forms.

  •   Where do I file my bankruptcy case?

    Northern District of Georgia Counties | United States Bankruptcy Court
    OR
    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/court-locations

    The Northern District of Georgia has four divisions, each with a staffed Clerk’s Office. All four divisional Clerk’s Offices are open from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (except legal holidays). Refer to the Court's website for the street addresses, public telephone numbers, and mailing addresses for each divisional office and directions to each office.

  •   What is an automatic stay?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney

    The filing of a voluntary, joint, or involuntary petition under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code automatically operates as a stay against the commencement or continuation of most judicial, administrative, or other proceedings against the debtor or property of the debtor's estate. The stay gives the Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 debtor "breathing time" for rehabilitation and gives the Chapter 7 Trustee the protection necessary for administering the assets of the estate and relieves the Chapter 7 debtor from the pressure of creditor collection efforts. During this time, creditors should not contact a debtor about debts or take action to recover property in which they claim a security interest.

    There are also some limitations on the automatic stay if the debtor has had a previous case or cases dismissed under certain circumstances within the preceding twelve months. If a second case under these circumstances is filed, the stay as to some property will only be good for 30 days. If a third case is filed, then the automatic stay may not apply.

  •   What does the case number tell me?

    www.uscourts.gov/services-form/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics
    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/filing-without-attorney

    Case numbers are assigned to each case when the case is filed. This number begins with the year it is filed and is used to identify the case. This is placed on every document filed in the case and will be needed to retrieve case information.

  •   How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/fees
    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/chapter-7-fee-waivers

    The schedule of the fees for filing petitions under all chapters of the Bankruptcy Code can be found on the Court's website along with waiver of fee application information.

  •   What are the different “chapters” in bankruptcy?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-basics

    The different chapters are Chapter 7 (liquidation), Chapter 13 (individual debt adjustment), Chapter 9 (municipalities), Chapter 11 (reorganization), and Chapter 12 (family farmer or fisherman). The different bankruptcy chapters are discussed on the Bankruptcy Basics website.

  •   What chapter is right for me?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-basics

    Deciding whether to file bankruptcy and under which chapter is an extremely important decision and should be made only after a review of all the facts. Anyone considering filing for bankruptcy protection should investigate all possible options and should speak with an attorney familiar with bankruptcy for an explanation of the law specific to their circumstances.

  •   What happens after I file bankruptcy?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/what-know-after-you-file

    Notice of Bankruptcy - Approximately 3-10 days after you file your petition for bankruptcy, you will receive a Notice of Bankruptcy Case at the address you provide to the Court. This is the same notice that your creditors will receive informing them you have filed bankruptcy. This notice lists important deadlines and information about your case including the trustee assigned to your case and meeting of creditors information. Please bring a copy of the notice with you to the meeting of creditors.

    341 Meeting of Creditors - The meeting of creditors is the meeting required by section 341 of the Bankruptcy Code at which the debtor is questioned under oath by creditors, a trustee, examiner, or the U.S. trustee about his/her financial affairs. This meeting is also called the creditors' meeting.

    Tax Returns - Individuals who file bankruptcy must provide the trustee (whose name appears on the Notice of Bankruptcy) with a copy of their most recently filed income tax return. This should be provided to the trustee at least 7 days before the meeting of creditors. Do not file your tax return with the court.

    Chapter 13 Plan Payments - Monthly Chapter 13 plan payments should be paid to the Chapter 13 Trustee, not the Court or Clerk's Office. If the debtor cannot make a Chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact their attorney or the appropriate Chapter 13 Trustee.

  •   What is the Meeting of Creditors? What can I expect will happen at the meeting?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/what-know-after-you-file

    The Meeting of Creditors is held approximately thirty days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. The Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee or U.S. Trustee for Chapter 11 presides over the Meeting of Creditors. The debtor and everyone listed on the creditor mailing list filed by the debtor will receive written notice of the day, time, and location of this meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to give the Trustee and creditors an opportunity to question the debtor under oath.

    Individuals who file bankruptcy must bring two forms of original documentation to their meeting of creditors: 1.) photo identification (driver's license, government ID, state photo ID, student ID, U.S. passport, military ID, resident alien card or Mexican consulate card) and 2.) confirmation of their social security number (social security card, a medical insurance card that includes the debtor’s SSN, a pay stub, W-2 form, IRS form 1099, or a Social Security Administration report).

  •   Must I attend the meeting of creditors?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney

    The debtor (both spouses in a joint case) must be present at the meeting to be questioned under oath by the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee and by creditors. Creditors are welcome to attend but are not required to do so.

  •   Do I need an attorney to file bankruptcy?

    www.gabar.org and MACBAG (Metro Atlanta Consumer Bankruptcy Attorney Group) on Facebook.
    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/finding-lawyer

    While it is possible to file an individual or joint (spouses) bankruptcy case "pro se," that is, without the assistance of an attorney, it can be difficult. Hiring a competent attorney is highly recommended. For information about referral programs, contact the Georgia Bar Association at 800-334-6865 or visit on-line at www.gabar.org.

  •   Do I need to provide a copy of the petition to anyone?

    Without the benefit of an attorney, a debtor will be responsible for ensuring all persons entitled to notice of case proceedings are included on the mailing list. The Clerk’s Office will notify the creditors with a notice, provided you have listed complete street addresses, city, state and zip code for all creditors.

  •   What if I need to change my address?

    Request for Change of Address

    Complete a Change of Address form available at the above link and mail or hand deliver to the Clerk’s Office.

    http://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/court-locations

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

    The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. 955. If you have an attorney, consult with your attorney. If you have no attorney, consider retaining one. You may contact your lender to advise that you have filed for bankruptcy protection. You will need your case number and filing date. If it is necessary to initiate any legal action, neither the Trustee, the Clerk, nor Court personnel may represent you in such legal action. It is solely your responsibility.

  •   What should I do if I cannot make my Chapter 13 payment?

    https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/chapter-13-bankruptcy-basics

    If the debtor cannot make a Chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact their attorney or the appropriate Chapter 13 Trustee. Contact should be made before a payment is missed.

    The contact information and website location for each Chapter 13 Trustee's offices in the Northern District of Georgia is:

    Chapter 13 Trustees
    Judges Drake, Baisier and Ritchey Craig Judges Bonapfel, Ellis-Monro, and Sigler Chief Judge Hagenau, Judges Sacca and Cavender
       Melissa J. Davey
       Suite 200
       260 Peachtree St NW
       Atlanta, GA 30303
       (678) 510-1444
       Website
       Mary Ida Townson
       Suite 1600
       285 Peachtree Center Ave NE
       Atlanta, GA 30303
       (404) 525-1110
       Website
       Nancy J. Whaley
       Suite 120
       303 Peachtree Center Ave NE
       Atlanta, GA 30303
       (678) 992-1201
       Website

     

  •   What is a discharge?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/discharge-bankruptcy

    A bankruptcy discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts. The debtor is no longer legally required to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge is a permanent order prohibiting the creditors of the debtor from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts. The bankruptcy discharge varies depending on the type of case a debtor files: chapter 7, 11, 12, or 13. There are some debts that generally cannot be eliminated such as student loans, domestic support obligations, child support and alimony and some taxes. Click here for FAQs about the Discharge in Bankruptcy.

  •   When will I get my discharge?

    https://www.uscourts.gov/services-forms/bankruptcy/bankruptcy-basics/discharge-bankruptcy-bankruptcy-basics

    The timing of the discharge varies. In a chapter 7 (liquidation) case, for example, the court usually grants the discharge promptly on expiration of the time fixed for filing a complaint objecting to discharge and the time fixed for filing a motion to dismiss the case for substantial abuse (60 days following the first date set for the 341 meeting). Typically, this occurs about four months after the date the debtor files the petition with the clerk of the bankruptcy court.

    In individual chapter 11 cases, and in cases under chapter 12 (adjustment of debts of a family farmer or fisherman) and 13 (adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income), the court generally grants the discharge as soon as practicable after the debtor completes all payments under the plan. Since a chapter 12 or chapter 13 plan may provide for payments to be made over three to five years, the discharge typically occurs about four years after the date of filing. The court may deny an individual debtor's discharge in a chapter 7 or 13 case if the debtor fails to complete "an instructional course concerning financial management." The Bankruptcy Code provides limited exceptions to the "financial management" requirement if the U.S. trustee or bankruptcy administrator determines there are inadequate educational programs available, or if the debtor is disabled or incapacitated or on active military duty in a combat zone.

  •   What is a proof of claim?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/electronic-proof-claim-epoc

    A proof of claim is the form that a creditor must file before getting paid in a bankruptcy case. The proof of claim tells the trustee the type of claim as well as how much a creditor is owed. The electronic proof of claim [EPOC] along with instructions are available at our website.

  •   What are claim objections?

    Debtors may object to any claim filed in their bankruptcy case if they believe the debt is not owed or if they believe the claim misrepresents the amount or kind of debt (e.g., secured or priority) that they owe. A debtor who anticipates objecting to a claim should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible since the objection process can be complicated and time sensitive.

  •   What are exemptions?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney

    In accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 522(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, certain states, including Georgia, allow an individual debtor to exempt real, personal, and intangible property from the property of the debtor's estate. Exempt assets are protected by state law from liquidation and distribution to your creditors. The exemptions allowed under Georgia state law are listed in § 44-13-100 of the Georgia Code. Under bankruptcy law, you are entitled to list the assets set forth in section § 44-13-100 of the Georgia Code as exempt.

    Deciding which assets are exempt and how and if you can protect these assets from your creditors can be one of the more important and difficult aspects of your bankruptcy case.

    Although you may be discharged from further personal responsibility for certain debt, after you receive your discharge a creditor will still have a lien or security interest in your secured property. Under 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) of the Bankruptcy Code, however, you may file a motion with the Court for an order avoiding certain kinds of liens or security interests in various property.

  •   What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/reaffirmation-project

    A Reaffirmation Agreement is 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.

    You are not required to reaffirm a debt by any law.

    To better educate pro se debtors about Reaffirmation Agreements, the Bankruptcy Section of the Atlanta Bar Association in collaboration with the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, developed a program that provides free counseling to unrepresented debtors seeking to enter into Reaffirmation Agreements in cases filed in the Atlanta Division. Once a month, in the Atlanta Division, attorneys donate their time to meet with debtors who are unable to afford an attorney. The attorneys review the terms of any proposed Reaffirmation Agreement. This service is free and although the volunteer attorney does not represent you, the attorney can help you understand the legal, financial, and personal consequences of a decision to reaffirm a debt. Information about the Reaffirmation Project is available at the Court's website.

  •   What is a redemption?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/glossary-legal-terms

    A debtor may redeem exempt or abandoned property from a lien by paying the lienholder the fair market value of the property that secures such lien. Redemption must be a cash transaction, unless the creditor consents to a payout over time. There are some lenders that specialize in lending funds to debtors to accomplish a redemption, but those lenders generally require that the debtor is represented by an attorney.

  •   How do I change or correct information in the petition, schedules, and statements that I have already filed with the Clerk’s Office?

    Once you correct the document, you can file the amended document with the court. Be aware when you file an amended document there are requirements regarding service. The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955, we cannot assist you with this requirement.

    The Fee Table, adopted September 1, 2018, directs that a fee of $31.00 be charged for an amendment to Schedules D, E, and F, or the List of Creditors, after notice has been provided to creditors. The fee is charged for adding creditors, deleting creditors, changing the amount specified as being owed to a creditor, or changing the classification of a debt.

  •   How do I know if a debt is secured, unsecured, priority or administrative so I can fill out my schedules correctly?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/glossary-legal-terms

    A secured debt is backed by a mortgage, pledge of collateral, or other lien; debt for which the creditor has the right to pursue specific pledged property upon default. Examples include home mortgages, auto loans, and tax liens.

    A debt is unsecured if you have simply promised to pay someone a sum of money at a time, and you have pledged no real or personal property to collateralize that debt. Most credit card debt is unsecured.

    A priority debt is a debt entitled to priority in payment, ahead of most other debts, in a bankruptcy case. A listing of priority debts is given, in general terms, in 11 U.S.C. § 507 of the Bankruptcy Code. Examples of priority debts are some taxes, wage claims of employees, debts related to goods and services provided to a debtor's estate during the pendency of a bankruptcy case, and alimony, maintenance or support of a spouse, former spouse, or child. If you have questions deciding which of your debts are entitled to priority status, you should consult an attorney.

    An administrative debt is also a priority debt and is one created when someone provides goods or services to your bankruptcy estate. The best example of an administrative debt is the fee generated by an attorney or other authorized professional in representing the bankruptcy estate.

  •   How do I remove the bankruptcy from my credit report?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/credit-rating-and-reports

    The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. You must resolve any dispute you have with a credit agency or your credit report directly with that agency. The Fair Credit Reporting Act, 6 U.S.C. § 605, is the law that controls credit reporting agencies.

    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 the Bureau of Consumer Protection, Financial Practices in Washington, DC at 202-326-3224.

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

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/credit-rating-and-reports

    The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. You must resolve any dispute you have with a credit agency or your credit report directly with that agency.

    The Bankruptcy Clerk's Office is not responsible for credit reports and does not inform credit reporting agencies. Bankruptcy records are public records and the information contained in them can be retrieved by anyone. Credit reporting agencies regularly collect information from the petitions filed and report the information on their credit reporting services. Bankruptcies normally will remain on your credit report for up to ten (10) years and may be taken into consideration by any person reviewing a credit report for the purpose of extending credit in the future. Sometimes a Chapter 13 discharge may only be listed for seven (7) years. The decision whether to grant you credit in the future is strictly up to the creditor and varies from creditor to creditor depending on the type of credit requested.

  •   If I file for bankruptcy, will the filing stop an eviction?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/credit-rating-and-reports

    The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955. If you have questions on how a bankruptcy filing affects enforcement of an eviction proceeding, please contact your local county Sherriff’s office or an attorney.

  •   My car was repossessed last night. However, my dismissal has been vacated. What must I do to get my car back?

    The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955. If you have an attorney, consult your attorney. If you have no attorney, consider retaining one. You may contact your lender to advise that you have filed for bankruptcy protection. You will need your case number and filing date. If it is necessary to initiate any legal action, neither the Trustee, the Clerk, nor Court personnel may represent you in such legal action. It is solely your responsibility.

  •   Where can I get more information about bankruptcy and bankruptcy procedures?

    There are several resources for information about bankruptcy and bankruptcy procedures.

    1. Bankruptcy Basics is a booklet published by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and is available on www.ganb.uscourts.gov/bankruptcy-basics.
    2. This court also provides information at www.ganb.uscourts.gov/filing-without-attorney.
    3. Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation, 404-521-0790, www.avlf.org.
    4. Atlanta Legal Aid Society, 404-524-5811, www.atlantalegalaid.org.
    5. State Bar of Georgia, 404-527-8700, www.gabar.org.
  •   What if the case I am interested in has been archived?

    www.archives.gov/research/court-records/bankruptcy.html

    To retrieve case information or copies of documents from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), you must first obtain, from the Clerk’s office, the case number; the accession number, location number and box number. Once you have this information, you may obtain copies of documents from the case file at NARA (Federal Records Center) by mail, fax or online. On-site court case services are NOT available.

    Address: NARA, Atlanta Federal Records Center
    U.S. Court Reference Program
    4712 Southpark Boulevard
    Ellenwood, GA 30294
    Telephone: 404-736-2900
    Fax: 404-736-2927
    Order Form: https://www.archives.gov/research/court-records/bankruptcy.html
    Submit to: https://eservices.archives.gov/orderonline

     

  •   Who do I notify about a possible fraudulent filing?

    Notify the U. S. Trustee’s office at 404-331-4437. Be prepared to provide this information:

    a. The bankruptcy case name and file number;
    b. A chronological summary of events;
    c. A narrative of what occurred; and
    d. Names, addresses and telephone number (if available) of the subjects and witnesses known to you.

Creditor Questions

  •   How do I file for Relief from the Automatic Stay?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/motion-relief-automatic-stay

    The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955.
    A Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay is not a form and must be prepared by the filer. There is a $181.00 fee unless:
    a. It is for Co-Debtor Relief from Stay only;
    b. It is a Child Support Motion accompanied by Form 2810 Appearance of Child Support Creditor of Representative; or
    c. It comes with a proposed Consent Order signed by all interested parties, including the Trustee.

    The Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay can be filed at any Clerk’s Office Intake Counter (Atlanta, Gainesville, Newnan, Rome). Please note that Gainesville, Newnan and Rome, only accept cashier’s checks or money orders for payment.

  •   How are Proof of Claims filed?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/electronic-proof-claim-epoc

    Electronic Proof of Claim (ePOC)

    A proof of claim or an amended proof of claim may be filed electronically using the appropriate link below. Please read all the information and instructions provided BEFORE attempting to file your proof of claim.

    A proof of claim may be filed at the Intake Counter or mailed to the Clerk’s Office at the following address(s): Court Locations: https://www.ganb.uscourts.gov/

  •   I am a creditor in a bankruptcy case. When can I pick up or repossess my property?

    The debtor may be protected by a stay. Also see What is an automatic stay? Contact an attorney to learn what your rights are or refer to the Bankruptcy Code and Rules. The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955.

  •   My ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy and listed me as a co-signer on a debt, what must I do? He/she got the debt in the divorce.

    The Clerk’s Office is prohibited from providing legal advice per 28 U.S.C. § 955. Contact an attorney to discover what your rights are or refer to the Bankruptcy Code and Rules.

  •   How do I get back to the previous page, when after selecting a link, I press the Back button on the browser and nothing happens?

     Unlike most programs, a web browser will open multiple windows. In other words, two or more windows in which the browser appears may be active at the same time. Look at the bottom of the screen on the line with start button. If the Netscape or Explorer logo appears on two different buttons, you have more than one window open. Click on the button that is not active (not highlighted) to open the previous window. If there is only one window open, click on GO menu item at the very top of the screen; a drop down menu will appear from which you can click on the address of the page you wish to return to.

  •   How can I search for a word or phrase on a web page?

    Once you select a document to review you can do a word search by clicking on EDIT, then Find and Replace, or Find in Document (or pressing Ctrl+F), and entering the word(s) you wish to locate in the document. For documents in PDF format (viewable using Adobe Acrobat Reader) search by clicking on TOOLS, then FIND (or Ctrl+F), and proceed the same way. Note, however, that if the PDF document is an image file, as opposed to a text file, searching the document is not possible. As the names imply, a text file is one created in the first instance using a word processing, spreadsheet or similar program, while an image file is created by scanning a document using a document scanner or fax machine.

  •   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/

  •   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 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 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 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.

  •   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 an automatic stay?

    The filing of a voluntary, joint, or involuntary petition under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code automatically operates as a stay against the commencement or continuation of most judicial, administrative or other proceedings against the debtor or property of the debtor’s estate. The purpose of the stay is to give the Chapter 11 or Chapter 13 debtor “breathing time” for rehabilitation, to give the Chapter 7 Trustee the protection necessary for administering the assets of the estate, and to relieve the Chapter 7 debtor from the pressure of creditor collection efforts. During this time, creditors should not be contacting the debtor about debts or taking action to recover property from the debtor in which they claim a security interest. If contacted by a creditor, the debtor may advise them that they have filed bankruptcy and provide them with the case number.

    There are also some new limitations on the automatic stay if the debtor has had a previous case or cases dismissed under certain circumstances within the preceding twelve months. If a second case under these circumstances is filed, the stay as to some property will only be good for 30 days. If a third case is filed, then the automatic stay does not apply at all.

  •   What are exemptions?

    In accordance with 11 U.S.C. § 522(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, certain states, including Georgia, allow an individual debtor to exempt real, personal, and intangible property from the property of the debtor’s estate. Exempt assets are protected by state law from liquidation and distribution to creditors. The exemptions allowed under Georgia state law are listed in section 44-13-100 of the Georgia Code. Under bankruptcy law, debtors are entitled to list the assets set forth in section 44-13-100 of the Georgia Code as exempt.

    Deciding which assets are exempt and if and how you can protect these assets from your creditors can be one of the more important and difficult aspects of your bankruptcy case.

    It is important to note that although you may be discharged from further personal responsibility for certain debt, a creditor will still have a lien or security interest in your secured property after you receive your discharge. Under 11 U.S.C. § 522(f) of the Bankruptcy Code, however, you are allowed to file a motion with the Court for an order avoiding certain kinds of liens or security interests in various property.

  •   What is the Meeting of Creditors?

    This meeting of creditors is held approximately thirty days after the bankruptcy petition is filed. The Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee presides over the meeting of creditors. The debtor and everyone listed on the list of creditors filed by the debtor will receive written notice of the day, time, and location of this meeting. The purpose of the meeting is to give the Trustee and creditors an opportunity to question the debtor under oath. The meeting of creditors is also called the “section 341 meeting” because 11 U.S.C. § 341 of the Bankruptcy Code requires that the meeting be held.

    The debtor (both spouses in a joint case) must be present at the meeting to be questioned under oath by the Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Trustee and by creditors. Creditors are welcome to attend, but are not required to do so. The meeting may be continued and concluded at a later date without further notice.

  •   Will I have to appear in Court?

    Yes. When a debtor files a bankruptcy case, he or she is required to attend a hearing titled Section 341, First Meeting of Creditors. This hearing is scheduled approximately 30 days following the filing of the case. A debtor filing a Chapter 13 case may also be required to attend his or her confirmation hearing. The confirmation hearing is when the judge assigned to the case approves the repayment plan filed by the debtor. Further, a debtor may be required to attend additional hearings depending on the circumstances of his or her case.

  •   Where do I file my bankruptcy case?

    Bankruptcy cases are filed in the Clerk’s Office of the appropriate United States Bankruptcy Court. Bankruptcy Courts are part of the federal court system which divides the country into 94 judicial districts. Every state has at least one federal judicial district, and many have more. Georgia has three federal judicial districts, Northern, Middle and Southern. Due to its size, the Northern District of Georgia has been split into four divisions, each with a fully staffed Clerk’s Office. All four divisional Clerk’s Offices are open from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (except legal holidays).

    The Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia covers the 56 counties in northern Georgia. If the debtor's residence, principal place of business or principal assets have been located in one or more of these counties for the necessary period of time, the case should be filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The specific county of your residence, principal place of business or principal assets determines in which of the Northern District of Georgia’s four divisions your case should be filed. Click HERE to determine which division to file in.

  •   Who can file a bankruptcy?

    Almost anyone can file a bankruptcy case, though there are restrictions. For instance, there are specific debt levels for filing under Chapter 13 and if you file under Chapter 7, in certain situations your case may be converted to Chapter 13 if it appears you have sufficient income (or means) to repay some of your debts. Further, if you have been in a previous bankruptcy case that was dismissed, your eligibility to file another bankruptcy case or obtain the benefit of the automatic stay in a subsequent case could be affected. In all cases, it is advisable to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in making this decision so that you understand your rights and obligations.

  •   How do I add additional email addresses to my CM/ECF account?

    Any email address changes need to be made by the Clerk's Office.  Please email the change(s) to: ecf_helpdesk@ganb.uscourts.gov

  •   How will users learn how to file documents in CM/ECF?

    Filing documents in CM/ECF is easy; generally only a minimal amount of training is needed. More information about training in the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Georgia will be provided after you submit your registration form.

    A participant must complete the training provided by the Court and learn the basics using the training database before the Clerk will issue a login and password to the LIVE database. The CM/ECF Live password will not be assigned until a participant has demonstrated sufficient aptitude in using CM/ECF, based on testing conducted by Court personnel. Training requirements may be waived for current CM/ECF participants in another Bankruptcy Court.

    The PACER Service Center website also has computer-based training modules and FAQs.

  •   Are there fees associated with CM/ECF?

    There are no additional fees for filing documents over the Internet using CM/ECF. Only standard court document filing fees apply. Electronic access to individual case docket sheets and filed documents is available through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) program. Litigants receive one free copy of documents filed electronically in their cases through a link in the e-mailed Notice of Electronic Filing; additional copies are available to attorneys and to the general public for viewing or downloading through PACER. There is no charge to view court opinions and court calendars. As directed by Congress, the judiciary's electronic public access program is funded entirely through user fees set by the Judicial Conference of the United States.

  •   Who can file a bankruptcy?

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/court-info/faq/filingwithoutattorney
     
    Bankruptcy Basics | United States Courts
     
    Almost anyone can file a bankruptcy case, though there are restrictions. It is always advisable to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in making this decision, so you understand your rights and obligations.

  •   What is a Voluntary Petition?

    Frequently Used Bankruptcy Forms

    www.ganb.uscourts.gov/frequently-used-forms

    A voluntary petition is a petition or written request filed to start the bankruptcy proceeding.