How do I obtain information about a case?
Telephone Access: Basic information, such as the debtor or debtor's attorney's name, case number, or the name of the trustee is available on the telephone by calling the VCIS (Voice Case Information System) at (401) 626-3076 or (800) 843-2841. This information is provided free of charge and is available 24 hours a day from any touchtone phone. See the VCIS link on the Court’s web page for further information.
Computer Access: Electronic case summaries, docket information, and viewable copies of all pleadings filed since 1998, may be retrieved via the Internet through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records system (PACER). This system requires that you be a registered participant, and there is a fee for access ($0.10 per page, with a page being approximately 50 lines of text). This charge is limited to the first thirty pages of a document or report screen you are running, but is charged each time you open a new document.. For PACER registration information, please see the PACER link on the website. Cases filed prior to 1998, which have been closed, may be archived at the Federal Records Center in Waltham, MA. To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's office. Records may be obtained directly from the Federal Records Center, but you will need to obtain certain archiving information from the Clerk's office prior to requesting information from the Federal Records Center.
Copies of documents: Court records and documents filed after 1998 have been imaged and can be obtained from the Clerk's office via e-mail or fax at no cost, or through the PACER system. Paper copies may also be obtained for a fee from the Clerk’s office.
How do I get certified copies of documents?
You may come to the Clerk's office and request certified copies. There is a printing fee and a certification fee for each document to be certified. Alternatively, if you know the documents you are looking for, you can mail a request to the Clerk's office. Your request must specifically identify the documents you want certified. Be sure to include the case name, case number, filing date and the title of the specific documents which you wish to have certified. In addition, please include your name, address and daytime contact number, so the Clerk can reach you if he/she has any questions about your request.
If you request certified documents by mail, you must include payment for the Clerk's search fee and certification with your request. The payment must be in the form of either a bank cashiers check or a U.S. Postal money order made payable to the Clerk, United States Bankruptcy Court. The fees that apply when requesting a certified document by mail include: a per document search fee, a certification fee per document, and a per page photocopy fee. Contact the Clerk’s office if you are unsure of what the total charge for certifying the document will be.
How do I get a matter scheduled for hearing?
The Clerk’s office schedules matters for hearing upon direction from the Bankruptcy Judge. To determine if a matter has been scheduled, please visit our court calendar page.
How do I find out which trustee has been assigned to a particular case?
The face page of the case docket contains the name of the trustee in all Chapter 7and 13 cases. Unless the court specifically appoints a trustee in Chapter 11 cases, the debtor operates as a debtor in possession without a trustee. You may obtain the trustee's name by contacting the Court’s Voice Case Information System, McVCIS, at (800) 843-2841 or (401) 626-3076. Another method would be to look up case information via the Internet using the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system. Finally, you may also obtain this information by calling the Clerk's office, or by telephoning the local office of the U.S. Trustee. The Court’s website has a link to Trustee information, which gives addresses and telephone numbers of acting trustees.
How do I file a Proof of Claim?
If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case, you will receive a written notice from the Clerk's office in the mail after the bankruptcy has been filed. The notice will tell you if there is a deadline for filing claims. If a deadline for filing claims is contained in the notice, you will also be instructed to obtain a proof of claim form from the uscourts.gov site.
If the original notice you receive from the Clerk's office does not contain a deadline for filing proofs of claim (which is usually the case in Chapter 7 cases), you may subsequently receive a "Notice to File a Proof of Claim" if the trustee later determines that there are assets available for distribution in the case. This notice will also contain the deadline for filing claims with the court.
The claim form should be filled out completely and should include any attachments needed to support your claim. DO NOT SUBMIT ORIGINAL BACKUP DOCUMENTATION to support your claim; it will not be returned to you. The original claim must have your signature on it (not a stamp or copy). You must return the original of your completed claim, with all attachments, to the Clerk's office by the deadline for filing claims. This means the Clerk's office must receive the claim form by that date, not that you mail it by that date. You must also send a complete copy of your claim to the case trustee and to the debtor and their attorney. Their addresses will be included in the notice you receive from the Clerk's Office.
If you wish to have a conformed copy of your claim returned to you, please bring an extra copy for yourself, or if you are mailing it, include an extra copy with a self-addressed, stamped envelope with enough postage to cover return mailing costs. The Clerk will file stamp the extra copy and return it to you.
Requests for information regarding when a claim will be paid should be directed to the trustee assigned to the case, whose name and telephone number can be found on the Creditor’s Meeting Notice that you receive from the Clerk's office.
You may also file a proof of claim electronically from our website without obtaining a login or password. Instructions for filing can be found by clicking the "File a Proof of Claim" button on our website.
How are creditors notified of my bankruptcy filing?
A notice entitled “Notice of Chapter ____ Bankruptcy Case, Meeting of Creditors and Deadlines” is issued by the Court to the creditors listed on your creditor mailing list within 7 days of the filing, informing them of your case number, date of filing, social security number, the date of the Section 341 (creditor) meeting, and particular case deadlines. This notice is usually received by the creditors within a week of the filing.
If you feel a more immediate notice of your bankruptcy must be given to a particular creditor, it is your responsibility to determine what type of notice is appropriate and give that notice to the creditor. A printed “Notice of Bankruptcy Filing” can be obtained from the Clerk’s office. This Notice has the Court seal, and the date and time of your filing.
Have you completed the Means Test?
The Means Test is a financial analysis to determine if a debtor can repay a threshold level of general unsecured debt, and is used to determine if there is a presumption of abuse of the provisions of the chapter filed. If a presumption of abuse exists, the US Trustee, Case Trustee or a party in interest may move to dismiss the case or convert the case to a Chapter 11 or 13.
You must complete the Means Test, including the checkbox at the top of the form indicating whether or not a presumption of abuse arises. The computation is based on 1) your current monthly income and 2) allowed deductions. The appropriate Means Test must be filed as part of petition:
Chapter 7: Form B22A-1 - Statement of Current Monthly Income and Means Test Calculation
Chapter 7: Form B22A-1Supp- Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse Under §707(b)(2)
Chapter 7: Form B22A-2- Means Test Calculation
Chapter 11: Form B22B - Statement of Current Monthly Income
Chapter 13: Form 22C - Statement of Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period
Chapter 13: Form 22C-2- Calculation of Your Disposable Income
- If your bankruptcy case later converts to another chapter, you must refile a Means Test appropriate for that chapter.
- If the Means Test is not included at the time of filing of your bankruptcy case, a Notice of Missing Documents (14 days) will be issued setting deadlines for filing the Means Test.
The Clerk’s office will notify all creditors within 10 days of the filing if there is a presumption of abuse. This information will be included in the Section 341 Meeting Notice. To determine if a presumption of abuse arises, please see bankruptcy code 707(b)(2). You may rebut this presumption by demonstrating special circumstances, itemized and supported by documentation, that would decrease income or increase expenses and bring the debtor below the monetary standard for the presumption of abuse.
You may also file a Motion for Exemption from the Means Test if you are a disabled veteran and the indebtedness occurred primarily during a period during which you were on: (1) on active duty or (2) performing a homeland defense activity.
Have you completed Credit Counseling?
You must complete mandatory Credit Counseling prior to filing bankruptcy. Please click on each link below for detailed information regarding pre and post filing required education.
• Before filing your bankruptcy case - Completion of Credit Counseling
• Within 60 days after filing - Completion of Financial Management Course
EXEMPTIONS, What are exemptions?
11 U.S.C. § 522(b) allows an individual debtor to exempt real, personal, or intangible property from the property of the estate. Exempt assets are protected by state law from distribution to your creditors. Typically, exempt assets include vehicles up to a certain dollar amount, the equity in your home up to a certain amount, and tools of the trade.
Exemptions are claimed on Schedule C. As with all schedules, it is important to fully complete and provide all the information requested. If no one objects to the exemptions you have listed within the time frame specified by the bankruptcy court, these assets will not be a part of your bankruptcy estate and will not be used to pay creditors through your bankruptcy case.
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. It is extremely important to consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding the issue of exempt assets.
Does the Bankruptcy Court hold jury trials?
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §157(e), a bankruptcy judge may conduct jury trial in bankruptcy proceedings where the right to a jury trial applies and all parties have consented.
Do I need to send a copy of the petition to anyone else?
No, unless you fail to include a required creditor on the mailing list. The Clerk's office will notify all the creditors you have listed on your creditor mailing list of your bankruptcy filing as well as your case trustee and the United States Trustee, by mailing a written notice to them described in the above answer. For this reason, it is very important that you provide complete addresses, including city, state and zip code, for each creditor on your creditor list. If you later determine that you have missed including a required creditor, you must file a motion to amend the creditor list and submit a new creditor list with only the added creditors names and addresses, include the required fee (cash or money order) and serve a copy of the Court’s Section 341 Meeting Notice to Creditors on the added creditors.
Do I need photo identification?
Effective March 1, 2009 - any person wishing to file a bankruptcy petition or adversary proceeding without an attorney (pro se), must appear in the Clerk’s office and provide photo identification, or the filer must have a power of attorney(and photo identification) authorizing them to file on behalf of another person. Please read the following notice for more information.
Do I need an attorney to file a bankruptcy?
Individuals are not required to have an attorney to file bankruptcy, although it is highly recommended. Corporations, partnerships and trusts must be represented by an attorney to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is an extremely technical area of law and involves many complex issues- for example, property exemptons, the dischargeability of a debt, or the application of the automatic stay rule. In addition, there are a substantial number of documents required to be filed to commence a case, many of which are also extremely technical in nature. An attorney can advise debtors on these issues. The staff at the Bankruptcy Clerk's office cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about filing for bankruptcy or preparing the bankruptcy paperwork, please seek the advice of counsel. If you cannot afford an attorney, please contact one of the following resources: (1) the RI Bar Association, which provides information on finding a lawyer at (401) 421-7799,www.ribar.com; (2) RI Legal Services at (800) 662-5034 or (401) 274-2652; or (3)the Volunteer Lawyer Program at (401) 421-7758.
Pre-petition credit counseling from an approved agency is a requirement for filing bankruptcy. The list of authorized agencies for the state of Rhode Island is listed on the Office of the US Trustee page of this website.
DISCHARGE, What is the difference between a denial of discharge and a debt being non-dischargeable?
Denial of a discharge applies to all debts of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate, while determination of non-dischargeability applies to a particular debt only. A request for denial of discharge is usually granted because the debtor has defrauded a creditor, concealed property of the estate, made a false oath, presented or used a false claim, refused to obey any lawful order of the court and other reasons contained in the Bankruptcy Code.
On the other hand, non-dischargeability of a debt excepts a particular debt from the discharge. This means that if the debt is determined non-dischargeable the debtor is still obligated to that creditor.
DISCHARGE, What is a discharge?
The discharge order is issued by the court and permanently prohibits creditors from taking action to collect dischargeable debts against the debtor personally; this does not prevent secured creditors from seizing collateral if payments are not kept up, or other creditors from pursuing property of the estate.
Some debts are not dischargeable, and others may be found to be non-dischargeable depending on particular circumstances.
In a chapter 7 case, the bankruptcy court will order that the debtor be discharged of all dischargeable debts once the time for filing complaints objecting to discharge has expired unless:
a. the debtor is not an individual;
b. a complaint objecting to the debtor's discharge has been filed; or
c. the debtor failed to complete an instructional course concerning personal financial management;
d. the debtor has a previous discharge within the past 8 years;
e. the debtor has filed a waiver of discharge.
In chapter 11 cases, if the debtor is an individual, a discharge must be granted by the Court after all payments are complete, or, at least, the amounts paid are not less than the amount that would have been paid under a chapter 7 liquidation; otherwise, the confirmation of a plan of reorganization discharges the debtor from dischargeable debts that arose before the date of the order of relief unless:
a. the plan or order confirming plan provides otherwise; or
b. the plan is a liquidating plan and the debtor would be denied a discharge in a chapter 7 case under 11 U.S.C. 727.
In chapter 12 and chapter 13 cases, the court will order that the debtor is discharged of dischargeable debts after the debtor has completed all payments under the plan, all domestic support obligations are certified as current and has completed a financial management course, or prior to plan completion, after notice and hearing, if the requirements of 11 U.S.C. §§ 1228(b) or 1328(b) have been met.
The granting of a discharge does not automatically result in the closing of a case. All contested matters, adversary proceedings, and appeals must be resolved and the appointed trustee or debtor-in-possession must file a final report and account and request entry of a final decree before the Clerk's Office will close the case.