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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • A company has filed for bankruptcy and owes us money. What do we do?

    If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case, you may download and complete a Proof of Claim form (Form 410) or request a hard copy of the claim form by mail or by visiting the Clerk's Office.

    For Chapter 7, 11, 12, and 13 petitions, an original claim and a copy of any documentation supporting your claim should be filed. (If you would like a conformed copy returned to you, enclose a copy of the claim and a self-addressed, stamped envelope.)

    U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California's Local Rule 3002 requires the creditor to serve a copy of a proof of claim upon the debtor, if the debtor is not represented by an attorney. The debtor’s address can be found on the Notice of Chapter X  Bankruptcy Case  (where X is the chapter number).

  • How do I convert a Creditor Matrix (List of Creditors) to a text (.txt) file?

    A creditor matrix is a list of creditors that contains each creditor's name and mailing address. This information is used for noticing and also for claims information when applicable. The list of creditors is uploaded to case's docket in the electronic CM/ECF system.

    The list of creditors must be created in an ASCII file format and saved with the .txt file extension before it can be successfully uploaded to the CM/ECF system.

    If you are creating the list of creditors from within a word processor, such as Word or WordPerfect, you must follow these specific directions to save the file as an ASCII text file:

    • Using Word: Click on File, then Save As. Change the "Save as Type" to Plain Text or MS-Dos Text. Name the file. Click Save. This procedure will save the file with the filename that you typed, and add a .txt extension to the filename.
    • Using WordPerfect: Click on File, then Save As. Change the File Type to ASCII Dos Text. Name the file. Click on Save.

    The specifications for creating a List of Creditors are extensive. Be sure to consult the complete instructions for the creating the List of Creditors found in Form CSD 1007.

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

    In order for a party to continue a proceeding against the debtor that has been stayed because of the filing of the bankruptcy and the automatic stay:

    He or she must file a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay or a Stipulation for Relief from the Automatic Stay. (Hiring a competent attorney for assistance is highly recommended.)

    A Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay is commenced by the filing of a motion. Each motion shall be supported by all documents which assert a valid perfected security interest and all documents which support an assertion of lack of adequate protection or of equity in that property.

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California’s Local Rule 4001 requires the use of forms CSD 1160 - Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay (Real/Personal Property) or CSD 1163 - Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay (Unlawful Detainer) (as applicable) and CSD 1185 - Notice of Filing of Motion for Relief from Automatic Stay. An original of the Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay is required upon filing.

    Consult the Filing Fees page for the current filing fee for a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay.

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

    There are several ways in which to obtain trustee information on a case:

    Court Documents

    For Chapter 7, 12, or 13 bankruptcy cases, this information can be found on the Notice of Chapter X Bankruptcy Case (where X indicates the bankruptcy chapter number) that is sent when a case commences.

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS)

    The Voice Case Information System (VCIS) allows callers to access case information from any touch-tone telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is no charge to use VCIS. Call (866) 222-8029.

    Visit or Contact the Clerk's Office

    You are welcome to call or to visit Clerk's Office during the court's hours of operation: Monday through Friday from 8:30 am - 4:30 pm, except on federal holidays.

    Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse
    325 West F Street
    San Diego, California 92101 

     (619) 557-5620

  • How do I get a bankruptcy removed from my credit report?

    The Bankruptcy Court has no jurisdiction over credit-reporting agencies.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act [15 U.S.C. § 1681] 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 10 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's Bureau of Consumer Protection in Washington, D.C. This office can provide further information on re-establishing credit and addressing credit problems.

  • How do I get a login for CM/ECF?

    Only attorneys certified by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California can file electronically using CM/ECF.

    To be certified and file documents electronically in CM/ECF, attorneys and their staff must be registered with the court and be trained. To learn more or to register for the court's training, visit our CM/ECF Training & Registration page.

    For more information, contact our CM/ECF training Help line: (619) 557-7535.

  • How do I get admitted to practice in the bankruptcy court?

    Contact the United States District Court for the Southern District of California for information on admission eligibility and procedures: 

    (619) 557-5600

  • How do I obtain case information (such as debtor’s name, attorney, case number, assigned judge, and case status)?

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS)

    The Voice Case Information System (VCIS) allows callers to access case information free of charge from any touch-tone telephone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Voice Case Information System (VCIS): (866) 222-8029

    Computer / Internet Access via Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER)

    Electronic case summaries and docket information may be retrieved using a computer via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Please click here for PACER registration information or call (800) 676-6856.

    All registered agencies or individuals will be charged $0.10 per page with a maximum charge of $2.40 (with no charge up to the first $10.00 for each calendar year for a registered user). Transcripts of federal court proceedings are not subject to the 30-page fee limit. Scanned images of documents shown on docket entries in cases filed on or after January 1, 1998 also are available through this Web site. However, there may be instances in which not all docket entries will have attached images of documents.

    In Person

    For more detailed information, bankruptcy documents may be viewed in person or retrieved for copying from the Clerk's Office at which the case was filed. To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's Office in San Diego: (619) 557-5620. To view or retrieve bankruptcy documents, you must have the bankruptcy case number or debtor's name.

  • How do I obtain certified copies of documents?

    In Person

    Visit the Clerk’s Office. A certification fee of $11.00 per document is required, plus a copy fee of $0.50 cents per page. Payment may be in the form of cash, a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court.

    If payment is by cash, exact change is required. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

    Certified Copies by Mail

    To obtain copies by mail, provide a written request which contains the following information:

     - Case number

     - Debtor’s name

     - Precisely which documents are to be copied and certified

    Include a $31.00 search fee per item, a $11.00 certification fee per item to be certified, and a copy fee of $0.50 cents per page. Payment may be in the form of a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

  • How do I obtain copies of documents?


    PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is a Web-based system that allows users with Internet access and a PACER login to access court records.

    Beginning in 1998, dockets may include images of documents filed. These documents may be viewed, downloaded, and printed from your computer.

    Copies by Mail

    To obtain copies by mail, provide a written request which contains the following:

    - Case number

    - Debtor’s name

    - Precisely which documents are to be copied

    Include a $31.00 search fee per item to be searched and a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Payment may be in the form of a bank cashier's check, or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to: Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. Personal checks will not be accepted from debtors or debtors in possession.

    Upon receipt of request, we will advise you of the number of pages to be copied and the total copy fee; copy fee per page: $0.50. Once the copy fees are received, copies will be made and mailed.

    For more information, visit our Records / Case Information page.

  • How do I schedule a hearing date?

    To obtain a court hearing date, contact the courtroom deputy (calender clerk) of the judge assigned to the case.

    Consult the Court Phone List, then click on the Courtroom Deputies hyperlink located at the top of the Court Phone List page.

  • How many copies do I need to file at the court?

    When filed in paper, an original and one copy to be conformed are required.

  • How will a court reporter or transcriber know when to redact a transcript?

    Any transcript redaction request must be requested by a party in the case by filing a Request for Redaction with the court and submitting the request to the transcript company within 21 calendar days of the initial filing of the transcript with the Clerk’s Office.

    The Request for Redaction must specify the personal data identifiers to be redacted, noting the page and line numbers where the redaction is required.

  • I am having problems viewing Adobe Acrobat files or when I open a PDF file that states "Done"; nothing appears on the screen.
  • I received a notice that I have a deficient pleading. What does that mean?

    Pleadings are considered deficient if they are not in compliance with the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (FRBP) and the court's Local Rules.

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

    The Clerk's Office is prohibited by federal statute from providing legal advice. If you have any questions on how a bankruptcy filing affects enforcement of an eviction proceeding, please contact your legal advisor.

  • Is there a court document that provides procedural information?

    The Local Bankruptcy Rules (LBRs) and Administrative Procedures are a set of procedures and mandatory requirements for bankruptcy cases and proceedings at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California. They are in PDF format, and a complete set can be downloaded from this page: Local Rules. The Administrative Procedures also can be viewed and downloaded as a separate document.

  • Is there a fee that the court reporter or transcriber can charge for making the redactions?

    No. The Judicial Conference has not authorized an additional fee for providing redacted transcripts for the court's electronic records.

  • May parties move to redact other information in a transcript other than the specified identifiers?

    Yes. While court reporters or transcribers are authorized to redact the specific personal identifiers noted above, counsel may move the court by separate motion. A ruling from the court is required before other information in the transcript may be redacted.

  • Once the certified copy of the transcript is filed with the Clerk’s Office, can court reporters or transcribers sell copies to other parties requesting transcripts?

    Yes, nothing in the new policies restrict counsel, parties, or the public from requesting copies of a transcript from a court reporter or transcriber during or after the 90-calendar day period.

  • What are some keyboard shortcuts I can use in CM/ECF?

    You can use the following keyboard shortcuts within the CM/ECF system:

    - CTRL + A to select all

    - CTRL + C to copy

    - CTRL + V to paste

    - CTRL + Z to undo previous action

    - CTRL + P to print

    - CTRL + Q to quit

  • What are the benefits of using CM/ECF to file electronically?

    The CM/ECF system:

    - Is easy to use

    - Is available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week

    - Is secure and reliable

    - Reduces paper, copying, and mailing costs

    - Sends e-mail notification of case activity

    It allows:

    - Instant filing of documents

    - Automatic e-mail confirmation for filers

    - Simultaneous access to information by multiple parties

    - Viewing, saving, and printing of documents such as docket sheets, claims registers, and reports

    With CM/ECF, these are eliminated:

    - Copy requests

    - Waiting in line or calling to check when an item was docketed

  • 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. Those considering bankruptcy should be aware of the following: Filing for bankruptcy protection is not free. Please refer to the Filing Fees page.

    Not all debts are dischargeable. Example: 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. 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 and the barring of the debtor from filing again for 180 days (six months). 11 U.S.C. § 521 mandates that a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case “shall be automatically dismissed effective on the 46th day after the date of filing of the petition” if the debtor fails to file “all information required by 11 U.S.C. 521(a)(1)” within 45 days of filing. If a case is not dismissed and a discharge is entered by the court, the debtor is prohibited from being granted another discharge in Chapters 7 and 11 within eight years. Fraudulent information or acts by the debtor are grounds for denial of a discharge and may be punishable as a criminal offense.

  • What are the federal holidays?

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California is closed on all federal holidays. Visit the Court Holidays page to see the dates on which the court is closed for the current year.

  • What are the filing requirements?

    Please visit our Filing without an Attorney (Pro Se Filing) page for information on legal services, where to file, and what to do before and after you file. Also consult our Filing Fees page, which lists the various fees associated with filing.

    For information on Credit Counseling and Means Test, visit the U.S. Trustee Web site:

  • What are the hardware and software requirements for using the CM/ECF system?

    The CM/ECF electronic filing system requires the following hardware and software:

    - A computer running a standard operating system, such as Windows or Mac OS X

    - A Web browser. For CM/ECF, the latest versions of Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Internet Explorer are recommended. (Some users have had positive experiences with other Web browsers, but Firefox and Internet Explorer have been tested and certified for compatibility with CM/ECF.)

    - Internet service

    - A PDF-compatible word processor, such as Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect

    - The ability to convert documents from your word-processing format to Portable Document Format (PDF). Word and WordPerfect can convert documents to PDF. Other software products (such as Adobe Acrobat) also can be used.

    - The ability to view PDF documents using products such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, which is available for free

    - A document scanner, if litigants need to create PDF images of documents they wish to file

  • What are the personal identifiers that a party may request to be redacted?

    The redaction of the following personal identifiers should be requested from counsel:

    -  Social Security Numbers or Taxpayer Identification Numbers; redacted to the last four digits

    - Financial account numbers; redacted to the last four digits

    - Dates of birth; redacted to the year

    - Names of minor children; redacted to initials

  • What are the scanning guidelines for CM/ECF?

    For fast and efficient use of CM/ECF, it is critical that your scanning software for documents is correctly configured. The consequence of a poor or incorrect setup is a significantly increased file size that can be up to 20 to 40 times the size of a correctly scanned document. This enlarged file size can cause:

      - Increased file storage requirements at the user's PC (as well at the Bankruptcy Court's server), together with a general slowness in handling these files.

     - Increased network traffic both locally and through the user's Internet Service Provider, resulting in long file-upload times. The communications network may time out if the files exceed the recommended size.

     - A very slow response time from CM/ECF as the user attempts to upload a large file. This may result in file rejection or a delay in obtaining a confirmation of successful receipt.

     - A very slow download and/or file opening when attempting to read large files already uploaded in CM/ECF.

    Follow these steps and checks to ensure correct scanner software settings:

     - Resolution should be set to 200 dpi, or a maximum 300 dpi.

     - Image type should be set to black and white drawing (NOT gray scale, NOT color).

     - Scanned image output or "save as" format should be TIF (ideally compressed CCITT4). (Check your scanner software manual for information on how to set output type.)

    A simple test scan should be made and the file converted to PDF for CM/ECF upload. This PDF conversion can be done using one of several software packages but a good example is Adobe Acrobat (the full package, not just Adobe Reader). Simply drag the scanned file onto the Acrobat Icon and conversion is automatic. This conversion should not significantly increase the file size.

    To verify the file size, locate the file using Windows Explorer. Click on the filename to select it. Right-click the filename and select Properties. The file size will be listed. If your document is mostly text, it should be no larger than approximately 50 KB per page. At most, a very detailed page with graphics should be no larger than approximately 200 KB per page.

    PRINT THIS PAGE AND SCAN IT AS A TEST! At 200 dpi this single page scans and converts to a 35 KB PDF file. At 300 dpi this single page scans and converts to a 52 KB PDF file.

  • What do I do with documents/notices I am receiving from the court? I don't understand why I'm receiving these.

    At the time of filing, debtors should list everyone to whom they owe money. If the debtor is unsure whether or not money is still owed to a creditor, the debtor may list the creditor as a precautionary measure. If as the creditor listed in the documentation and you are sure that you do not know the person/entity named as the debtor, you are free to recycle or destroy the documents/notices as you see fit.

    You may also send the court a copy of the notice, along with a signed and dated request to be removed from the case mailing list. Contact the debtor's attorney to understand why you were listed by the debtor.

  • What does the case number tell me?

    A bankruptcy case number consists of the filing year (along with five additional digits), the initials of the judge assigned to the case, and the bankruptcy chapter number. For example, for this case number

    16-90131 - LT7

    - The number 16 refers to the year 2016

    - The number 90131 is a sequential number assigned to the case in the order it was filed

    - The letters LT refers to Judge Laura Taylor

    - The 7 refers to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy

    Other common bankruptcy chapters are 11 and 13.

    The other current judges' iniitials are CL (Christopher Latham), and MM (Margaret Mann).

    Other judges who have served at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California were PB (Peter Bowie), JH (John Hargrove), JM (James Meyers) and LA (Louise Adler).

  • What forms of payment are accepted by the court?

    Payment from debtors may be in the form of a bank cashier’s check, a money order, or cash. If payment is by cash, the exact amount is required. Personal checks and credit cards will not be accepted from individual debtors or debtors in possession. Debtors may pay with debit card via Forms.

  • What if I don’t agree with an order in the case?

    A Notice of Appeal may be filed after an Order or Judgment has been entered in a case. In a Notice of Appeal, the party filing the appeal (the appellant) wishes to reverse the Order or Judgment granted in favor of the other party (the appellee). When an appeal is filed in the Southern District of California, the matter is referred to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP).

    The filing fee for a Notice of Appeal is $298.00. Under 28 U.S.C. § 158, the circuit court may accept a direct appeal if the appropriate court or party certifies that direct appeal is necessary to resolve a matter of first impression, conflicting decisions, or public importance.

    The official Notice of Appeal forms are available on the Court Forms page.

  • What if I have an emergency filing after hours?

    The Court's normal operating hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except federal holidays).

    In emergency situations, filings may be accepted at other times; however, a pre- approved appointment must be arranged. Contact the Clerk's Office during operating hours to arrange for an emergency filing: (619) 557-5620.

  • What if the addresses on the Creditor Matrix (List of Creditors) and the Proof of Claim don't match?

    Effective June 1, 2009, the Clerk’s Office will no longer update the List of Creditors (Creditor Matrix)  to add any creditor’s address(es) that are reflected on a proof of claim and are not on the debtor’s mailing matrix (i.e., new, mailing and/or payment addresses). Parties should be aware when noticing to check both the Claims Register and List of Creditors (Creditor Matrix) for all address information.

    To make changes to your address or update an existing address on the List of Creditors (Creditor Matrix), please visit our Web site for the appropriate bankruptcy forms. If you have any questions, please contact the court.

  • What if the case I'm interested in has been archived?

    Closed Case Files
    Paper files are no longer kept at the court. If a case file is closed, the file is available at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Federal Records Center.

    Order Records Online
    You can order court records online. Go to the National Archives Web site, which contains directions on how to order Bankruptcy Court records.
    You will need to register with the National Archives to request court records online. Also, you will need additional information about your case. Click here to enter a case number and search for the required information.

    Order Records by Mail / Fax / Email
    To order court records via mail / fax / email, use NATF Form 90 - Bankruptcy Cases Order Form, which can be found on the National Archives Web site. Directions for downloading and submitting this form can be found on the National Archives site.
    You will need additional information about your case to complete NATF Form 90. Click here to enter a case number and search for the required information.

    Need help with case file information? Call the court at (619) 557-5620.

  • What is a 341(a) meeting?

    A 341(a) meeting is presided over by the trustee assigned to the bankruptcy case and is considered a meeting of creditors. This meeting is held approximately 40 days after the new petition is filed. A debtor is required to appear and testify under oath and to be questioned by the trustee or creditors about his/her assets/liabilities. Failure to appear may result in dismissal of the case. If a continuance or change in the hearing date, time, or location is sought, the trustee assigned to the case must be contacted. Such requests are not filed with the court.

  • What is a bankruptcy discharge?

    Under the federal bankruptcy statute, a discharge is a release of the debtor from personal liability for certain specified types of debts.

    In other words, the debtor is no longer required by law to pay any debts that are discharged. The discharge operates as a permanent order directed to the creditors of the debtor that they refrain from taking any form of collection action on discharged debts, including legal action and communications with the debtor (such as telephone calls, letters, and personal contacts). Although a debtor is relieved of personal liability for all debts that are discharged, a valid lien (i.e., a charge upon specific property to secure payment of a debt) that has not been avoided (made unenforceable) in the bankruptcy case will remain after the bankruptcy case. Therefore, a secured creditor may enforce the lien to recover the property secured by the lien.

    For more information about discharges and how it varies depending on the type of case a debtor files, please search for the topic Discharge in Bankruptcy on the U.S. Courts Web site.

  • What is a bankruptcy petition?

    A bankruptcy petition is a document filed by the debtor (in a voluntary case) or by creditors (in an involuntary case) which opens the bankruptcy case. It is required at the time of filing. The form is Official Form B 101: Voluntary Petition. A joint petition is one bankruptcy petition filed by a husband and wife together.

  • What is a Creditor Mailing Matrix?

    Creating a Creditor Matrix

    When you file a voluntary petition under any bankruptcy chapter, you the debtor (or
    your attorney, if you use one) must prepare and submit to the Court a mailing list called the
    creditor matrix, which is a list of creditors to whom you owe money. This mailing list contains all
    of your creditors’ and/or equity security holders’ name(s) and addresses.

    This list must be submitted in an electronic format, using a computer and word- processing
    software.  If you are unable to bring your creditor matrix on electronic media (such as a CD, DVD,
    or flash/thumb drive), you will be instructed to prepare your creditor matrix using the Court’s
    computers located in the file review area.

    Do not include the debtor, joint debtor, U.S. Trustee, Internal Revenue Service, or Franchise Tax
    Board on the creditor matrix.

    1.  The creditor matrix list must be in a single column.  Do not list names and address entries in
         multiple columns.

    2.  Each name and address entry may contain a maximum of four lines. Do not use all uppercase
         letters.  Do not use bold or italic fonts.  Do not use special characters; that is,  #, &, @, !, %.

    3.  Each line can be no more than 35 characters in length, including spaces. The second line of each
         entry must be either a street address or a P.O. Box.  The word P.O. must include periods. 
         Do not include account numbers.

    4.  States must be two-letter abbreviations.  Examples: CA for California; NY for New York.

    5.  ZIP codes must appear on the last line, following the city and state. Nine-digit ZIP codes must
         contain a dash (not a space) between the first five digits and the remaining four digits: 92101-6991.

    6.  Each name and address entry must be separated by at least one blank line.

    7.  Certain federal and state agencies specify particular addresses to which notice of bankruptcy
         proceedings should be directed. The Court maintains CSD 1271- roster of State and Federal Agencies,
         which is available to the public on the Court Forms page of the Court’s Web site.

    8.  When listing a debt to the United States for other than taxes, the debtor shall include both
         the United States Attorney and the federal agency through which the debtor became indebted. The
         name and address of the United States Attorney must include the name of the federal agency in

    Example:   U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of CA
                       (For Department of Education)
                       940 Front Street, Room 5152
                       San Diego, CA 92101-8800

    When completed, save your creditor matrix in a text-format file with a .txt file extension. (This
    ensures that the creditor matrix can be uploaded to the Court’s CM/ECF system.) To save the file as
    a text file with a .txt file extension when using word-processing software:

    1.  Click on the File menu option, then select Save As.

    2.  A drop-down menu appears in your word-processing software.  Name the file with your name (as

    3.  From the drop-down list, select the Plain Text (.txt) file type.

    4.  Click on the Save button to save the document to your computer.

    5.  Copy the .txt file to your electronic media.

    Example of Creditor Matrix Format

    Acme Auto Repair
    1234 S Street
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Acme Hair Repair
    Attn Herman
    1234 S Ave
    San Diego, CA 92101

  • What is a Motion?

    A motion is a written formal statement in which the party who is requesting an action (the movant) sets forth his or her grounds for the action requested. The party against whom the action is requested is the respondent.

    Hiring a competent attorney to assist you in your case is highly recommended.

  • What is a Reaffirmation Agreement?

    A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by a debtor to continue paying a dischargeable debt (such as an auto loan) after bankruptcy, usually for the purpose of keeping collateral (i.e., the car) that would otherwise be subject to repossession.

  • What is an Adversary Proceeding?

    An adversary proceeding is a lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case, filed by a party called a “plaintiff” against a party called a “defendant.” Adversary proceedings are initiated by filing a document called a “complaint” with the court to resolve both federal and state law issues. Certain types of disputes cannot be handled by motion in the bankruptcy case, but instead require the commencement of an adversary proceeding. Federal Bankruptcy Rule 7001 lists certain types of actions that require an adversary proceeding. Adversary proceedings are governed for the most part by Part VII of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. See also Adversary Proceeding Filing Requirements.

  • What is an Automatic Stay?

    An automatic stay is an automatic injunction that restrains creditors from taking certain actions against a debtor who has declared bankruptcy.

    Under Section 362 of the United States Bankruptcy Code (11 U.S.C. § 362), most proceedings against the debtor are stayed once the bankruptcy petition is filed. The creditor is not permitted to begin or continue any efforts to collect the debt owed by the person or entity who has filed bankruptcy. The filing of a petition under Chapter 7 "automatically stays" most actions against the debtor or the debtor's property.

  • What is an ex-parte matter and how do I file for it?

    An ex-parte matter is one which requires no notice to other parties. Ex-Parte relief is usually granted only under emergency circumstances, or is limited to setting a hearing with limited notice or sooner than it would ordinarily be heard. See Local Bankruptcy Rules for information regarding motions that do not require notice.

    To file an ex-parte matter, the original motion must be filed with the Clerk's Office.

  • What is the Bankruptcy Code?

    Created in 1979, the Bankruptcy Code provides help for businesses or persons in financial difficulty in the form of bankruptcy chapters. Chapter 7, 11, and 13 bankruptcies are the most commonly filed chapters. The Bankruptcy Code is available at legal libraries.

  • What is the difference between bankruptcy chapters 7, 11, and 13?

    Chapter 7

    Often called the "liquidation chapter," Chapter 7 is used by individuals, partnerships, or corporations who have no hope for repairing their financial situation. In Chapter 7, the debtor's estate is liquidated under the rules of the Bankruptcy Code. Liquidation is the process through which the debtor's non-exempt property is sold for cash by a trustee and the cash is distributed to creditors.

    Chapter 11

    Often called the "reorganization chapter," Chapter 11 allows corporations, partnerships, and individuals to reorganize without having to liquidate all assets. In filing a Chapter 11, the debtor presents a plan to creditors which, if accepted by the creditors and approved by the court, will allow the debtor to reorganize personal, financial, or business affairs and again become a financially productive individual or business.

    Chapter 13

    An individual with a regular income who is overcome by debts, but believes such debt can be repaid within a reasonable period of time, may file under Chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 13 permits the debtor to file a plan in which the debtor agrees to pay a certain percentage of future income to the Bankruptcy Court for payment to creditors. If the court approves the plan, the debtor will be under the court's protection while repaying such debts.

  • What is the function of the U.S. Trustee?

    The Office of the U.S. Trustee is a federal Executive Branch agency and is part of the Department of Justice.

    Its responsibilities include monitoring the administration of bankruptcy cases and detecting bankruptcy fraud. It also is responsible for appointing interim trustees to administer Chapter 7 cases from a previously appointed panel of private individuals, lending support to and overseeing the Debtor-in-Possession in Chapter 11 cases, and appointing a standing trustee in Chapter 12 and Chapter 13 cases.

    If you wish additional information regarding either the trustee program in general or individual, visit the U.S. Trustee Web site or call the U.S. Trustee Office at (619) 557-5013. You also may visit our Trustees page for a listing of Southern District of California trustees.

  • What is the maximum file upload size in CM/ECF?

    The maximum file size for uploading to CM/ECF is 35 MB.

  • Where can I find information on filing for bankruptcy without an attorney?

    Please read the Filing Without an Attorney page available on the U.S. Courts Web site or visit our Filing without an Attorney (Pro Se Filing) page for information on legal services, where to file, and what to do before and after you file.

  • Where do I file?

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California is located in downtown San Diego at the Jacob Weinberger U.S. Courthouse, 325 West F Street, San Diego, CA 92101. The courthouse is located on the southwest corner of West F Street and Union Street.

  • Where do I get a copy of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure (Bankruptcy Rules)?

    You may review the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure online here.

  • Where do I get a copy of the Local Rules?

    You can obtain a copy of the complete set of our Local Rules in Portable Document Format (PDF) by visiting our Rules & Procedures page.

  • Which login should I use? CM/ECF or PACER?

    The U.S. Bankruptcy Court - Southern District of California is a NextGen CM/ECF court. Users who wish to file electronically should use their PACER login.

    To obtain a PACER login and password, visit our CM/ECF Training & Registration page.

    To learn more about PACER and how to obtain a PACER login, visit the PACER Web site.

  • Whom do I notify about a possible fraudulent filing?

    To expedite the handling of complaints of criminal violations in the bankruptcy system, the United States Trustee requires that your complaint be submitted in a signed letter, bearing your return address and telephone number to:

    For cases filed in San Diego and Imperial counties, send your letter to:

    Office of the United States Trustee
    Schwartz Federal Building
    880 Front Street, Ste. 3230
    San Diego, CA 92101

    Upon receipt, your complaint will be reviewed. If the information furnished establishes a reasonable belief that a criminal violation has occurred, the matter will be referred to the United States Attorney. If the United States Attorney deems the matter to hold prosecutorial merit, it will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for investigation.

    A clearly written statement containing copies of any available documentation will expedite this process. Submit the following information:

    - The bankruptcy case name and file number, together with copies of any pertinent court filings

    - A chronological summary of the matter

    - A narrative of what occurred

    - Names, addresses, and telephone numbers (to the extent available) of the subjects and witnesses known to you

    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. This information, which is regularly checked by credit companies, may affect the debtor's or entity's credit rating.

  • Will all transcripts filed with the Clerk’s Office be available electronically?

    Once an ordered transcript is prepared, the transcript is filed with Clerk's Office, which automatically restricts it from electronic public access from outside the court for a 90-day period. The Judicial Conference's privacy policy contains procedures for redacting personal information from court filings that are electronically made available to the public. Attorneys have a responsibility to ensure that electronically available transcripts do not contain protected information.

    Public access to the transcript is immediately available, however, when viewed at the public terminals at the courthouse or if purchased from the court reporter.

    If a transcript is redacted, the original, unredacted transcript will not be available electronically. The redacted version of the transcript will be available after the 90-day restriction period has ended.

  • Will anyone be able to obtain a copy of the transcript during the initial 90-calendar day period after the certified transcript copy has been filed with the Clerk’s Office?

    Yes, any counsel, party, or member of the public wanting a copy of a transcript during the 90-calendar day period will be able to purchase a copy from the court reporter or transcriber at the rate established by the Judicial Conference.

  • Will counsel, a party, or the public be able to review the transcript during the 90-calendar day period?

    Yes, the transcript on the CM/ECF system will be available for review and inspection at the court’s public terminal during the 90-calendar day period. However, the Clerk’s Office will not provide copies to counsel, a party, or the public during the 90-calendar day period, but rather will refer anyone who wants a copy to the transcriber. In addition, an attorney in a case who has received a transcript from the court reporter or transcriber will be given access to the transcript through the CM/ECF system. Counsel of record in a case who has not purchased a copy of the transcript from the court reporter or transcriber will not have access to the transcript through CM/ECF until they purchase it from the court reporter or transcriber or until the 90-calendar day period has expired.