I've heard I can only file a case under Chapter 13. Is this true?
In 2005, the United States Congress passed bankruptcy legislation which includes new income and expense considerations when filing for bankruptcy, and may require debtors with income above a certain amount to file under Chapter 13 instead of under Chapter 7, depending on their income and expenses. This however is a very individual determination based on each person’s income, household expenses and debts. To properly understand which chapter would be right for you, it is strongly recommended that you contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney. The Clerk's office is not allowed to give legal advice and can't tell you how these new requirements will affect you.
Is bankruptcy information public information? Can anyone look at it?
The information contained in documents filed in bankruptcy cases are a matter of public record, and can be reviewed by members of the general public. The documents can be reviewed by members of the public in the Clerk's office during regular business hours or, for attorneys and parties who have access to PACER, over the Internet 24 hours a day.
Access to pleadings and papers filed in bankruptcy cases is not restricted unless there is some good basis for "sealing" information that is contained in them. To have a document filed "Under Seal" or "In Camera," a motion must be filed explaining the need to protect the information in that document from public view.
If you are a debtor, you should be aware that the filing of bankruptcy may affect your credit rating. Several reporting agencies report bankruptcy information and statistics to the public, and credit reporting agencies also regularly collect bankruptcy information.
Because bankruptcy information is public, complete social security or account numbers should never appear on documents in their entirety. Where required, include only the last four digits.
Is there a fee to file a bankruptcy case?
Yes. There is a filing fee to commence a bankruptcy case which varies by the chapter of case filed, as well as various miscellaneous fees that may apply for filing certain documents or services requested. Because filing fees change frequently, it is recommended that you visit the filing fee page of our website for the most up to date fee information.
Is there a way I can reconcile my credit card charges in CM/ECF?
Yes, ECF has a report that can be used to reconcile credit card charges for filing fees. On the blue menu bar in ECF, click UTILITIES >> INTERNET PAYMENT HISTORY. Enter the desired date range. The report will list all payments made electronically or conventionally by you.
I’m attempting to file a large exhibit to a motion and I either get timed out or receive an error message. What should I do?
Exhibits generally are supporting documents such as a vehicle title, a deed of trust, or a promissory note and are typically scanned. Scanned documents are frequently very large and may cause ECF to "time out" during filing. In addition, CM/ECF will not accept files larger than 7 MB. To avoid this, choose the optimal scanner setting of black and white (not grayscale or color), set the resolution 200 dpi, and the paper size of 8½x11. If the scanned document is still too large, separate it into smaller PDF files no more than 50 pages each.
Keep your Bankruptcy Paperwork
Keep copies of your court documents including the voluntary petition, any amendments to the petition, and the discharge. These documents may be necessary for future refinancing, to ensure that credit reports are accurate, or for other court-related matters.
My case has been closed, but I need to file further documents – what do I do?
In order to file additional documents after your case is closed, you must first file a Motion to Reopen the case and pay the applicable re-opening fee. The Motion to Reopen must specifically state why the case is being sought to be re-opened. Additionally, if any creditors will be affected by the re-opening (such as adding new creditors), the debtor must also serve them with a copy of the Motion to Reopen. If the Court grants the Motion to Reopen, the debtor may then file the necessary documents.
My case was dismissed, what does that mean?
A dismissal order ends the case and removes it from bankruptcy jurisdiction. When the court dismisses a case, the ‘automatic stay’ is no longer in effect and creditors may start to collect on their debts again. Some types of dismissals – such as one for cause (failing to file required schedules and statements) may contain a 180-day bar to refiling. Unless the debtor appeals the dismissal or moves for reconsideration within 14 days of the order, the case will be automatically closed.
My ex-spouse has filed bankruptcy. He/she has listed me as a co-signer on a scheduled debt. What can I do? Does my divorce decree protect me?
If liable with a former spouse/debtor on a debt, the non-debtor former spouse should seek competent legal advice for a thorough explanation of his or her rights and obligations in this area as soon as he or she learns that the ex-spouse has filed a bankruptcy petition
Should an E-filer notify the court if their mailing or e-mail address changes?
If your mailing or e-mail address changes, update your User Account in ECF immediately. This is very important in order to not miss receiving document filings and court notices. If you experience any problems, please contact the court for assistance.
Should I notify the court if I move to a different law firm?
Yes, this is very important. Failure to notify the court may result in the wrong parties receiving electronic notice or service. To do so, complete the following steps:
- Click UTILITIES on the blue menu bar
- Click MAINTAIN YOUR ECF ACCOUNT
- Change your address information
- Click SUBMIT.
Should I use a Document Preparer to assist me in filing bankruptcy?
There are agencies and individuals who run businesses which assist individuals in preparing legal documents for a fee. These agencies will help debtors by taking information supplied by the debtor(s) and creating the forms necessary for filing a bankruptcy case. They may be helpful to you in explaining general procedures. They are not attorneys and are not allowed to give legal advice as part of their services. They cannot represent debtors in court. Any fee paid to such entities must be reported to the court and cannot exceed a certain amount (Appendix IV)without court approval. If the services of a Bankruptcy Petition Preparer are used, the Preparer must completeForm B19; this form must be filed with the bankruptcy petition and schedules.
The court does not provide translators. You may bring a translator with you. For professional translation services please click here. *Please note that the court is not affiliated with this agency.
Was Your Previous Bankruptcy Case Dismissed?
In all bankruptcy cases, certain schedules and statements are required to be filed. Pursuant to Fed.R.Bankr.P.1007, 1008, 2016 and 3015(b), R.I. LBR 1002-1, 1007-1 and 5005-4, the debtor shall file such missing documents according to the time limits imposed by federal or local rule.
If all documents are not contained in the initial filing, a 7-day Notice of Missing Documents and/or a Notice of Missing Documents (14 days) will be issued setting deadlines for filing required documents. If cause exists, you can move for an order extending the time to file required documents by filing a Motion to Extend Time explaining why more time is needed.
If you fail to file required documents by the deadlines set by the Court, the case will be automatically dismissed without further notice. Such a dismissal will be presumed to be a willful failure and there will be a 180-day bar to refiling.
What actions are creditors generally prohibited from taking?
Prohibited collection actions are listed in Bankruptcy Code §362. Common examples of prohibited actions include contacting the debtor by telephone, mail or otherwise to demand repayment; taking actions to collect money or obtain property from the debtor; repossessing the debtor's property; starting or continuing lawsuits or foreclosures; and garnishing or deducting from the debtor's wages. Under certain circumstances, the stay may be limited to 30 days or not exist at all, although the debtor can request the court to extend or impose a stay.