• How long does a bankruptcy filing stay on a credit report?

    A bankruptcy generally affects a persons credit rating for 7 to 10 years. However, this depends entirely on the individual credit reporting agency. The Bankruptcy Court has no influence on the type of information the credit bureaus report, nor on how long they keep it in their records. If you wish to review your credit report, visit www.annualcreditreport.com.

    Under a new federal law, you have the right to receive a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Each agency's report on your credit may contain information from different creditors. To receive a free annual credit report, you can call or send a written request to:

    Annual Credit Report Request Service

    PO Box 105281

    Atlanta, GA 30348-5281


    You can also contact the credit reporting agencies directly at:

    Equifax - www.equifax.com / 1-800-685-1111

    Experian - www.experian.com / 1-888-397-3742

    TransUnion - www.transunion.com / 1-800-916-8800


  • 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 To determine if a case has been archived, contact the Clerk's office.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?

    Certified copies of bankruptcy documents can be obtained by calling the  Clerk's office at (401) 626-3100, ext. 0 or by mail request.

    In order to obtain a certified copy of a bankruptcy document, you must have both the bankruptcy case number and the docket number of the document to be certified.

    1.  How to Locate Bankruptcy Case Number:

    2.  How to Locate Case Document (Docket) Number:

    • Docket numbers are located on the official court docket and can be obtained from a public access terminal in the Bankruptcy Clerk's office or through the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER).  To sign up for a PACER account, register at http://www.pacer.gov(link is external).  
    • Photocopy fees and search of court record fees may apply.  Please refer to the Bankruptcy Court Fee Schedule Page for more information regarding photocopy fees, search of court records fees, and the Court’s check acceptance policy. 

    3.  Requests for Certified Bankruptcy Documents Sent by Mail Must Include:

    • Bankruptcy or Adversary Proceeding case number
    • Debtor(s) name
    • Docket number of document(s) to be copied and certified
    • Daytime telephone number of the requesting party
    • A self-addressed, stamped return envelope with postage for the documents requested

    4.  Request for Certified Copy using ECF Event

    • Electronic Filers and Limited Users can use the event: “Request Certified Copy”, to obtain certified copies of court documents.  This event, located under the “Other” category in the Court’s electronic case filing system, allows you to electronically request the document to be certified, link to the specific case document, and then pay the miscellaneous fee using your pay.gov account.  

    5.  Request for Certified Copy by Self-Represented Filers 

    • Self-Represented filers can visit the Court's Free Online Fee Payment Program page for information about how to order and electronically pay the applicable fee for a request for certified copy of a court document.
  • 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 B 122A-1 - Statement of Your Current Monthly Income

    Chapter 7: Form B 122A-1Supp- Statement of Exemption from Presumption of Abuse Under §707(b)(2)

    Chapter 7: Form B 122A-2-  Means Test Calculation

    Chapter 11: Form B 122B - Statement of Current Monthly Income

    Chapter 13: Form 122C-1 - Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period

    Chapter 13: Form 122C-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 (self-represented), 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.