Frequently Asked Questions

VCIS (Voice Case Information System) Available 24 hours a day - 1-866-222-8029.

PACER (Public Access To Court Electronic Records) A web-based format that allows anyone with internet access and a PACER login from the court to access official court records via the internet at https://ecf.ianb.uscourts.gov

For more information about these systems, call the Clerk's office Monday through Friday, 8:00 - 4:30 at 319-286-2200 or 712-233-3939.

The Court prints the name of the trustee in a Chapter 7, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case at the top of the case docket and on many of the forms. You may obtain the trustee's name by visiting the Clerk's Office in person or through the automated systems.

You may mail or fax a written request, along with a certification fee per document, and a photocopy fee in the form of either a bank cashier's check or money order made payable to: United States Bankruptcy Court. In some instances a per item search fee may be charged. No personal checks will be accepted.  To view Miscellaneous Fee Schedule Click Here

Please 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 telephone number.

Mail your request to the appropriate Clerk's Office location.

Instructions for filing a report of suspected bankruptcy fraud are provided by the United State Trustee Program at: http://www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/fraud/index.htm

To retrieve case information or copies of documents from the Federal Records Center, you must obtain the Accession Number, Location Number, and Box Number from the clerk's office where the bankruptcy case was filed. You may initiate this process by contacting the Clerk’s office where the case was administered. They will assist you in making the Federal Records Center Request to obtain the information from the Federal Records Center.

The Bankruptcy Code, Rules and Forms can be viewed on this web site or at law libraries.

The Clerk's office can answer questions about required forms and filing fees.

The Clerk's Office provides a variety of services to the bankruptcy judges, attorneys, and the public. The Clerk's Office staff provides clerical and administrative support to the court by filing and maintaining case-related documents, sending notices, and setting hearings. The services provided by the Clerk's Office to attorneys and the public include responding to requests for information and making copies of documents in bankruptcy court files.

No.

A bankruptcy case is a legal proceeding affecting the rights of debtors, creditors and other parties in interest. Pursuant to 28 United States Code § 955, the Clerk's Office staff is prohibited from giving information which may be characterized as legal advice.

Cedar Rapids Office

Clerk's Office
United States Bankruptcy Court
Northern District of Iowa
111 Seventh Ave SE, Box 15
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401

 

Sioux City Office

Clerk's Office
United States Bankruptcy Court
Northern District of Iowa
320 6th Street, Room 117
Federal Building
Sioux City, IA 51101

 

A complete list of the documents and forms necessary to start a bankruptcy case under any chapter of the Bankruptcy Code is listed under the filing requirements section of this web site.

If you need to start your case quickly, you can file only those documents indicated as minimum documents required for filing. All additional documents must be filed within the time indicated. Your failure to timely file additional required documents or seek an extension of time to do so may result in dismissal of your case.

The clerk's office does not supply Official Bankruptcy Forms or sample plans. However, Official Bankruptcy Forms may be downloaded from this web site under Forms.

Type the information on the forms, if possible.

A response is necessary for every question. If your answer is "none" or "not applicable," put "none" or "N/A." Use continuation pages when you run out of room. Sign each form where required. If filing a joint case, make sure that your spouse signs too.

Prepare your creditor matrix (a mailing list of all your creditors) according to the matrix format instructions. The matrix must alphabetically list the names, with complete addresses of: creditors. Include any creditors, assignees, agents, or attorneys, and equity security holders. Mailing matrixes MUST be typed.

A joint petition is the filing of a single petition by an individual and the individual's spouse.

The original petition is filed with the Clerk’s Office. If you wish to have a conformed copy returned to you, please enclose an extra copy and a self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage.

A meeting of creditors is required by Section 341 of the Bankruptcy code and the debtor is required to attend. The purpose of the meeting is to enable the appointed trustee to examine the debtor under oath regarding the information that has been filed with the Court.

Debtors have a duty to appear and testify under oath and to be questioned by the trustee at the meeting. This meeting is presided over by the trustee assigned to the case and is held approximately 20 - 40 days after a petition is filed. Individual debtors must bring a picture identification and proof of social security number to the meeting of creditors for presentation to the trustee assigned to the case. Failure to appear may result in dismissal of the case.

The trustee or a creditor may inquire about the debtor’s financial status, conduct and financial affairs, and any other matters that are relevant to the administration of the debtor’s estate, including factors which bear on an individual debtor’s right to a discharge, the dischargeability of any particular obligation, or the debtor’s claimed exemptions.

Contact the trustee assigned to the case.

The bankruptcy trustee is the person assigned by the court to administer the bankruptcy proceedings.

The Office of the U.S. Trustee is an Executive Branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice. The U.S. Trustee is responsible for appointing trustees to administer bankruptcy cases and scheduling meetings of creditors. The U.S. Trustee also monitors bankruptcy cases to see if bankruptcy fraud has occurred. The U.S. Trustee's office is prohibited from providing legal advice.

The information contained in your petition, schedules, and statement of affairs is submitted under penalty of perjury. Therefore, you must be certain that it is correct when you sign these documents.

If, however, you later discover that something is inaccurate, the documents may be corrected by the filing of an amendment with the Clerk's Office. New schedules or statements must be filed showing the corrected information. All amendments must be signed by the debtor(s) with a declaration under penalty of perjury.

A fee of $26.00 must be paid to amend schedules of creditors if creditors are being added. If new creditors are being added, an additional page matrix, showing only the newly added creditors, must accompany the amendment.

A new Form B6 must be filed if an amendment affects the information on Form B6, Summary of Schedules/Statistical Summary of Certain Liabilities. All amendments must be served pursuant to Federal Bankruptcy Rules.

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. The following information is intended as a summary only. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in order to determine the rights and obligations that apply to your individual situation.

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 except in certain situations. For example, a discharge will not be granted if the debtor is not an individual, a complaint objecting to the debtor's discharge has been filed, a motion to dismiss the case for abuse is pending, the debtor has not paid the filing fee in full, or the debtor has not filed a Debtor's Certification of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Financial Management (Official Form B23 - 10/06) and a Certificate of Completion of Instructional Course Concerning Personal Financial Management.

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, or prior to plan completion, after notice and hearing, if the requirements of 11 United States Code §§ 1228(b) or 1328(b) have been met.

A chapter 13 debtor seeking entry of a discharge in a case filed on or after April 20, 2005, shall file the local form "Debtor's Certified Motion for Discharge and Notice of Deadline to Object" (IANB1328) upon completion of all payment under the plan. A chapter 13 debtor must also file a Debtor's Certification Re: 11 U.S.C. Section 522 (Form IANB-522), not earlier than the date of the last plan payment.

The granting of a discharge does not automatically result in the closing of a case. Pending motions must be resolved and the trustee must file a final report and account and request entry of a final decree before the Clerk's Office will close the case.

The filing fee is due even if your case is dismissed. The filing fee must be paid in full prior to the filing of a subsequent bankruptcy by a debtor. Additionally the filing fee due for the subsequent case must also be paid in full at the time of filing. An application to pay fees in installments will not be granted.

A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by which a bankruptcy debtor becomes legally obligated to pay all or a portion of an otherwise dischargeable debt. Such an agreement must generally be entered into within sixty (60) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. The agreement must be filed with the court. A reaffirmation agreement must be filed on (Form B-240) and be accompanied by a Reaffirmation Agreement Cover Sheet (Form B27). If the reaffirming debtor is represented by an attorney, and the agreement complies with 11 United States Code § 524(c), no hearing for approval of such an agreement is generally necessary. If the reaffirming debtor is not represented by an attorney, the court will schedule a hearing. You must appear in person at the hearing. The judge will ask questions to determine whether the reaffirmation agreement imposes an undue hardship on you or your dependants and whether it is in your best interests. Since reaffirmed debts are not discharged, the bankruptcy court will normally approve reaffirmation agreements only when the debt is secured by collateral that is important to your daily activities. Reaffirmation agreements are strictly voluntary. They are not required by the Bankruptcy Code or other state or federal law.

Redemption allows an individual debtor (not a partnership or a corporation) to keep tangible, personal property intended primarily for personal, family, or household use by paying the holder of a lien on the property the amount of the allowed secured claim on the property, which typically means the value of the property. Otherwise, in order to retain the property, the debtor would have to pay the entire amount of the secured creditor's debt or enter into a reaffirmation agreement and become legally obligated on the debt again.

The term "claim" in bankruptcy is used in the broadest sense. A claim is any right to payment held by a person or company against the debtor(s) and the debtor's bankruptcy estate. A claim does not have to be a past due amount but can include an anticipated sum of money which will come due in the future.

The written statement filed in a bankruptcy case setting forth a creditor's claim is called a proof of claim. The proof of claim should include a copy of any document giving rise to the claim as well as evidence of the secured status of the debt if the debt is secured. Generally, claims in chapters 11, 12 and 13 cases must be filed within ninety (90) days after the first date set for the meeting of creditors. In the Northern District of Iowa, all chapter 7 cases are opened as "no asset" cases. The bankruptcy trustee will determine if there are assets to be distributed. If so, the Clerk of Court will give creditors notice of a deadline to file claims for debts owed to them by the debtor(s). Creditors should not file a claim in a chapter 7 case unless a claims deadline is set. Creditors will have 90 days after the clerk's notice within which to file their claim with the bankruptcy court. Claims of governmental units must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days of the date the petition was filed.

If the debtor cannot make a chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact the trustee by phone and by letter advising the trustee of the problem and whether the situation is temporary or permanent.

Bankruptcy is a way for people or businesses (a "debtor") who owe more money than they can pay right now to either work out a plan to repay the money over time under Chapter 11, 12 or 13, or have most of the debts wiped out ("discharged"), as in a Chapter 7 case. While the debtor is either working out the plan or the trustee is gathering the available assets to sell, the Bankruptcy Code provides that creditors must stop all collection efforts against the debtor. When the bankruptcy petition is filed, you are immediately protected from your creditors.

Depending on a debtor's financial situation and reasons for filing, the consequences of filing for bankruptcy protection may outweigh the benefits. The following information is intended as a summary only. You are strongly encouraged to consult with an attorney in order to determine the rights and obligations that apply to your individual situation. Those considering bankruptcy should be aware of the following: Filing for bankruptcy protection is not free. How much does it cost?  To view filing fees click here

  • Not all debts are dischargeable. Examples of debts which are not dischargeable are:
  • Spousal and child support obligations
  • Most tax debts
  • Most student loans
  • Fines, penalties, forfeitures, or criminal restitution obligations
  • Debts for personal injuries or death caused by the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated
  • Some debts which may not be properly listed.

In addition, secured creditors retain some rights which may permit them to seize property, even after a discharge is granted. Schedules of the debtor's assets and liabilities must be timely 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). If a case is not dismissed and a discharge is entered by the court, the debtor may be prohibited from being granted another discharge in a later case. Fraudulent information or acts by the debtor are grounds for denial of a discharge and may be punishable as a criminal offense.

Chapter 7 is the liquidation chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. Chapter 7 cases may be filed by an individual, corporation, or a partnership. Under chapter 7, a trustee is appointed to collect and sell all property that is not exempt and to use any proceeds to pay creditors. In the case of an individual, the debtor is allowed to claim certain property as exempt. In exchange for this, the debtor gets a discharge, which means that the debtor does not have to pay certain types of debts. Corporations and partnerships do not receive discharges. Consequently, any individuals legally liable for the partnership's or corporation's debts will remain liable. Therefore, individual bankruptcies may be required as well as the corporation or partnership bankruptcy.

Chapter 12 offers bankruptcy relief to those who qualify as family farmers. There are debt limitations for chapter 12, and a certain portion of the debtor's income must come from the operation of a farming business. Family farmers must propose a plan to repay their creditors over a period of time from future income, and the plan must be approved by the court. Plan payments are made through a chapter 12 trustee who also monitors the debtor's farming operations while the case is pending.

Chapter 13 is the debt repayment chapter for individuals with regular income whose debts do not exceed certain limits, including individuals who operate businesses as sole proprietorships. It is not available to corporations or partnerships. Chapter 13 generally permits individuals to keep their property repaying creditors out of their future income for three to five years. Each chapter 13 debtor proposes a repayment plan which must be approved by the court. Attorney fees may be paid through the plan. The amounts set forth in the plan must be paid to the chapter 13 trustee who distributes the funds for a fee. Many debts that cannot be discharged can still be paid over time in a chapter 13 plan. After completion of payments under the plan, chapter 13 debtors receive a discharge of most debts.

The Bankruptcy Code is Title 11 of the U.S. Code. Major revisions to the Code were made in 2005. 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. Chapters 1, 3, and 5 of the Code apply in every case. These chapters deal with case administration, creditors' claims, debtors' duties, and property of the bankruptcy estate. The Bankruptcy Code is available at legal libraries and may be found on the Internet.

The Local Rules are the rules governing practice in the Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Iowa in addition to the Federal Bankruptcy Rules. Local Rules are available on this site. Local Rules

The bankruptcy court has no jurisdiction over credit reporting agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act is the law that controls credit reporting agencies. See 15 U.S. Code Sections 1681 - 1681u.

Visit the Federal Trade Commission's web site for information on reestablishing credit and addressing credit problems. Go to http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm and click on "Credit."

While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case "pro se," that is, without the assistance of an attorney, it is extremely difficult to do so successfully. Hiring an attorney is recommended. The court is not able to give legal advice or help you fill out the forms.

For more information about referral of an attorney, you can contact your local Bar Association or the Iowa Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service.

People can access the service directly by going to www.iowafindalawyer.com. They can also get to the site by going to the ISBA website ( www.iowabar.org) and clicking on "Find-A-Lawyer" in the blue menu bar.