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FAQs: Debtors / Attorneys

  • 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 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 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 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: https://www.justice.gov/ust

  • What if I have an emergency filing after hours?

    The Court's normal operating hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 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 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
         parentheses.

    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
         debtor).

    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 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.

  • 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.