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Frequently Asked Questions are provided as a reference. To view questions more specific to your needs, click on the applicable tab. The default landing page lists all questions.
How do I file a Claim?
If you have been listed as a creditor in a bankruptcy case, you will receive by mail a Notice of Bankrutpy Case. This Notice will tell you if there is a deadline for filing claims.
If the original notice you receive from the Clerk's Office does not contain a deadline for filing proofs of claim (which is typical in Chapter 7 cases), you may subsequently receive a "Notice to File a Proof of Claim" if the trustee later determines there are assets available for distribution in the case. This Notice will also contain the deadline for filing such claims with the Court.
If you are informed of a claim deadline, you may electronically file a claim with the Court, without a password, through the Court's ePOC program. You may also obtain a claim form Official Form B410 from the Court’s website. You may mail or hand-deliver your claim for filing to the Clerk's Office in Cedar Rapids or Sioux City. Regardless of method, your claim must be received on or before the filing deadline.
If you routinely file claims with the Bankruptcy Court, you may file the claim electronically by registering as a CM/ECF limited creditor filer.
What is bankruptcy?
“Bankruptcy” refers to a national set of laws (the “Bankruptcy Code,” which is codified in Title 11 of the United States Code), designed to help certain individuals and businesses reorganize their financial affairs to achieve a fresh start. Bankruptcy laws give the debtor certain protections and benefits that are generally not available outside of bankruptcy. Most notably, once a bankruptcy case is filed, existing creditors must typically stop all collection efforts against the debtor and certain debts may be forgiven if the debtor obtains a discharge. The bankruptcy laws require the debtor make a full disclosure of all assets, liabilities and other financial information, and generally the debtor either: (1) surrenders non-exempt assets for liquidation and distribution to creditors; or (2) formulates and proceeds under a plan of reorganization and debt repayment that provides creditors with at least as much as they would receive if the debtor’s non-exempt assets were liquidated and distributed to creditors.
A company or individual has filed for bankruptcy and owes me money. What action can I take?
Once a debtor files bankruptcy, he or she is protected by the automatic stay, which generally prohibits most actions by a creditor to collect a debt. There are limited exceptions to the automatic stay and you should consult an attorney to determine your rights. Actions taken in violation of the automatic stay may subject you to paying damages to the debtor. You can participate in the debtor’s bankruptcy by attending the Meeting of Creditors, filing a proof of claim, and filing appropriate objections.
Are all debts discharged in bankruptcy?
Not all debts are discharged. The debts discharged vary under each chapter of the Bankruptcy Code. A slightly broader discharge of debts is available to a debtor in a Chapter 13 case than in a Chapter 7 case. Section 523(a) of the Bankruptcy Code specifically excepts various categories of debts from the discharge granted to individual debtors. Therefore, the debtor must still repay those nondischargeable debts after bankruptcy. The most common types of nondischargeable debts are certain types of tax claims, debts for domestic support obligations, debts for willful and malicious injuries to person or property, debts to governmental units for fines and penalties, debts for most government funded or guaranteed educational loans or benefit overpayments, debts for personal injury caused by the debtor's operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, and debts owed to certain tax-advantaged retirement plans. Other types of debt, such as obligations incurred as the result of fraud, embezzlement, or willful injury may be excepted from discharge if the creditor successfully brings a nondischargeability action against the debtor.
Are you representing Yourself or Your Company?
The Bankruptcy Code is complex and parties often need legal counsel to obtain the relief they seek; however, individual creditors, including sole proprietors, may represent themselves before the bankruptcy court. Individuals that have an incorporated business, such as a corporation, partnership, limited liability company or other business entity, may not represent the interest of the company before the bankruptcy court. The company must be represented by an attorney duly admitted to practice before the bankruptcy court; however, the company does not need legal representation to file a proof of claim or a reaffirmation agreement.
As a creditor, how can I register to file documents and receive notice of case activity electronically in CM/ECF?
Creditors seeking access to CM/ECF in order to file documents and receive electronic notice should visit the Court's Electronic Filing webpage for details on how to become a limited access filer.
Can the Clerk's Office Staff give legal advice?
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.
Can the firm still continue to use one PACER account for viewing documents?
Yes. You can still have one PACER account for support staff and non-e-filing attorneys to view documents. Only those attorneys who e-file need to have their own individual PACER account. Those who e-file can view documents with the firms shared account or with their new individual PACER account.
Do I have to attend the Meeting of Creditors to get my money?
No, creditors do not have to attend the Meeting of Creditors. However, the Meeting of Creditors may be of interest to you as the meeting includes an examination of the debtor(s) under oath. This is your opportunity to ask the debtor questions related to their financial affairs.
Does a discharge remove the lien against my property?
The discharge order only relieves the debtor of the personal obligation to pay the debt. Valid liens against the debtor’s property that existed prior to the date the debtor filed for bankruptcy generally pass through the bankruptcy unaffected. However, certain liens may be avoided (e.g. made unenforceable) during bankruptcy or may be satisfied through a plan or reorganization.
How can I determine who was served a document?
To determine who was served with a filed document, you must look two places:
1. To determine who was served electronically via ECF, go to the Docket Report while logged into ECF (not PACER) as follows:
- Click on Reports on the ECF Main Menu Bar.
- Click on Docket Report.
- Enter the case number and click “Links to Notice of Electronic Filing” if it is not already checked. Click Run Report.
- Find the document of interest and click on the silver ball to the left of the document number, then click Display Receipt.
- The Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) appears. Scroll to the bottom and find the heading Notice will be electronically mailed to: for a list of parties served via ECF.
2. To determine who was served by the filer or the Bankruptcy Noticing Center (whether by mail, fax, e-mail, or EDI), look at the filed certificate of service. For documents served by parties, a separate docket entry entitled BNC Certificate of Mailing linked to the original document. A BNC Certificate of Notice will be a separate docket entry linked to the order, judgment, notice, etc. and is generally docketed within two business days of the filing of original document. The list of those served accompanies a copy of the document, and delineates all who were served, and how.
How can I find the correct event (menu item) to file a document in ECF?
It is very important to use the correct event (menu item) in ECF. Not only does it ensure that the item appears on the docket correctly, it often helps the court manage the case by setting or terminating a deadline or case flag, stopping a discharge from automatically being entered, setting a hearing, linking correctly to a response, objection or notice, complying with statistical reporting requirements, etc.
To locate the correct event, a Search option is available on the menu bar. Users can search for menu items and events by a word or word fragment. Clicking on the desired option begins the filing process.
Alternatively, when you are in a category with many events such as Motions/Applications/Objections to Exemption, entering a key word in the text box above the list will result in the full list being replaced by a list of just those events with the key word. Clicking on an event in the "Available Events" list will cause the event appear in the "Selected Events" list. After choosing one event, if you are docketing a multiple part motion, use the event search to find your next event, then hold down [Ctrl] and click on the entry; this entry will now also appear in the "Selected Events" list. Once the desired events are in the "Selected Events" list, click Next to proceed with filing.
If you are still not sure of the correct event, please contact the court at (319) 286-2200 or (712) 233-3939. Do not guess!
How can I get information about a case (debtor's name, case number, chapter)?
Multi-court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) 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.
How can I link to a Related Document in ECF?
When linking to a related document, you are prompted to "select the category to which your event relates". If you are unsure of the category, simply click the first item on the list, hold the [Shift] key, and click the last item on the list. This will select all categories and thus bring up all docket entries in the case.
How can I request No Further ECF Notices
ECF participants have complained that they receive email Notices of Electronic Filing (NEF’s) of documents in which they have no interest. In particular, ECF participants receive NEF’s in bankruptcy main cases if they are associated with the adversary proceeding, even if the adversary is closed and they have withdrawn from or were never involved in the main case.
To avoid receiving notices for bankruptcy cases when you are only involved in the related Adversary Proceeding, go to Utilities > Maintain Your ECF Account. Click the Email Information button. On the screen, choose the radio button 'Send notices for adversary proceedings in which I am directly involved but not for their related bankruptcy cases'. Click Return to Account Screen and on the next screen you must click Submit for any changes to become effective.
If your client’s involvement with a case has ended, you may file a withdrawal from case by filing a motion to withdraw.
How do I change or correct information in the petition, schedules and statements I have already filed with the Clerk's office?
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 filing fee is required to amend schedules when adding creditors, deleting creditors, changing the amount specified as being owed to a creditor, or changing the classificationof a debt on Schedules D/E, or F. See Miscellaneous Fee Schedule. If additonal creditors are added, a separate additional page matrix is required to be filed, listing only the creditor(s) being added.
A new Form must be filed along with the amended schedule(s) : Form B106-Summary - A Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities and Certain Statistical Information (individuals) or Form B206-Summary - A Summary of Your Assets and Liabilities (non-individuals).
All amendments must be served pursuant to Federal Bankruptcy Rules.
How do I change the date and/or time for a meeting of creditors?
Contact the trustee assigned to the case.
How do I check the file size of a PDF document?
1. Open the document in Acrobat.
2. Select File ⇒ Properties ⇒ Summary OR File ⇒ Properties ⇒ Description. Control D is a shortcut.
3. The File Size (in kilobytes or megabytes) of the document will be displayed.
PDF documents should be 20,000 KB (20MB) or less. Please keep in mind that this is the maximum upload size for all documents contained in your filing. You may need to reduce your resolution (200 dpi or less) and use black and white or grayscale and NOT color.
Many readers will not be able to open a single file larger than 10MB. Please consider breaking the file(s) into smaller files (less than 10MB). Otherwise, you may be called upon to provide copies outside of CM/ECF or to Amend your Filing (this time uploading smaller files).
How do I clear the temporary internet files or cache from my browser?
Please refer to this website for instructions to clear the browser cache.
How do I find out who the trustee is in a case?
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.
How do I get admitted to practice in the Bankruptcy Court or apply to appear in a case Pro Hac Vice?
Admission to practice - The Bankruptcy Court does not have its own bar. To practice in the Bankruptcy Court you need to be admitted to the federal bar of the United States District Court for the Northern or Southern Districts of Iowa. Visit the Iowa Northern District Court's website for Attorney Admission Information.
Appear pro hac vice - An attorney who neither resides nor maintains an office in the Northern or Southern Districts of Iowa can request to participate in a case upon application to the bankruptcy court. For further information, click here and/or review Local Rule 2090-1(b)(3). There is no admission fee charged for filing Pro Hac Vice in the Northern District of Iowa's Bankruptcy Court..
How do I get certified copies of documents in a case?
You may mail or fax (319-286-2280) a written request. Please include the case name, case number and the title of the specific document(s) you wish to have certified. In addition, please include your name, address and daytime telephone number. A certification fee per document and a photocopy fee will apply. In some instances, a per item search fee may be charged. See the Filing Fee Schedules for estimated costs.
You may also contact the Clerk's Office at (319)286-2200 or (712) 233-3939 to make your request or to confirm the payment owed.
Payment must be in the form of either a bank cashier's check or money order made payable to: United States Bankruptcy Court. No personal checks will be accepted. Alternatively, payment can be made through our Online Payment Program.
How do I get copies of documents in a case?
For information of obtaining copies, click here.
How do I get notices sent to me in a bankruptcy case if I am a creditor of the debtor?
To receive notices in a bankruptcy case, the debtor must have listed you on the mailing matrix of creditors when the case was filed (or by later addition) or you must file a written notice of appearance with the Court. You will also be added to the mailing matrix when you file a proof of claim in an asset case. If the address supplied by the debtor is not correct or if you change your address during the time the case is proceeding, you must notify the Court in writing of your current address.
IMPORTANT: If your correct and current address is not listed in the Court records, you will not receive notices in the case and, if dividends are distributed to creditors, your dividend check may not reach you.
How do I object to the debtor's general discharge or to the dischargeablity of my debt?
In a Chapter 7 case, a creditor can object to the granting of a discharge if there is cause to do so under 11 U.S.C. § 727(a). The creditor must timely file an adversary proceeding with the Court to object to the debtor’s discharge. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4004.
Under all chapters, certain debts may be discharged unless a creditor timely files an adversary proceeding with the Court to object to dischargeability of the debt under § 523(a). See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4007
How do I obtain relief from the automatic stay?
In order for a party to initiate or continue a proceeding against the debtor that has been stayed because of bankruptcy, the party must file with the Court a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. The Bankruptcy Rules and Local Rule 4001-1 prescribe the procedures for filing a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay. The filing fee for a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay can be found on the Court's website under Filing Fees. An attorney should be consulted to determine if an action is prohibited by the automatic stay.
How do I secure (flatten) PDF fillable forms?
Certain versions of Adobe Acrobat and other PDF editing software allow the user to save a fillable form after data has been entered, and to edit that information at a future date. If a form with saved data is filed electronically (through CM/ECF) without first securing the electronic file by "flattening" it, the data entered can be easily removed or altered by an unauthorized third party.
Attorneys and parties using the pdf-fillable versions of the official bankruptcy forms from www.uscourts.gov should flatten the pdf file before filing it with the bankruptcy court through CM/ECF. To "flatten" the file, "print" the form to PDF (using the print dialogue box) and file the resulting document.
Follow the steps below to “flatten” a completed PDF fillable form:
- Open fillable form.
- Add appropriate data.
- Select File.
- Select Print.
- Select the PDF printer. (The Adobe PDF printer is installed automatically with Adobe Acrobat. Numerous free PDF printer drivers are available for download from the Internet.)
- Select OK.
- Specify location to save the printed, “flattened” version of the form.
- Select Save.
- File the “flattened” form in CM/ECF.
How do I store my credit card information in PACER to pay filing fees in CM/ECF?
How long does a bankruptcy case stay on my credit report? How do I get a bankruptcy removed from the credit report?
A bankruptcy generally affects a person’s credit rating for 7 to 10 years. However, this depends entirely on the individual credit reporting agency. The Bankruptcy Court does not have influence on the type of information the credit bureaus report or how long the credit bureaus keep the filing in their records. Under federal law, you may be able to periodically receive a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Each agency's report may contain different information. To receive a free annual credit report, you can visit www.annualcreditreport.com or you can call or send a written request to:
For more information, see the Credit Reporting Information section on this website.
How many copies of Exhibits do I need?
See the Exhibits webpage for more information.
How many copies of my schedules do I need to file with the court?
The original petition is filed with the Clerk’s Office. If you wish to have a "date stamped" copy returned to you, please enclose an extra copy (self-addressed envelope with sufficient postage is required if returned via U.S. mail).
How much are the filing fees to file a bankruptcy?
To view filing fees Filing Fee Schedules
How should a proposed order be filed?
Proposed Orders shall be submitted as a PDF by email to the CR Scheduling Deputy firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a creditor in a case that has converted to another chapter. Is it necessary for me to file another Proof of Claim?
No, once you have filed a proof of claim with the Court, you need not re-file the claim after conversion, unless you receive a notice stating otherwise.
I am trying to log in to PACER and I get a PACER User Inactive error message:
This means your PACER account has not yet been activated. Contact PACER to have it activated. If you did not enter a credit card number when you registered, activation information will arrive in the mail from PACER in 7-10 days after registration.
Note: You can still e-file if your PACER account has not been activated, you just cannot view documents. Click the Continue button to proceed.
I clicked on "Continue Filing" in the payment window. How do I get back to the payment screen?
Go to Utilities, then Internet Payment Due.
I don't want to get a PACER account because I don't want to get charged for something.
There is no fee to register for PACER in order to be able to e-file in NextGen CM/ECF. There is only a fee from PACER for viewing documents. You can check the PACER website for their fees. You can pay your NextGen CM/ECF filing fees through PACER if you choose to do so.
I e-filed a document that has a fee and when I go to pay, I am prompted to log into PACER again. Why?
When you are prompted to pay a filing fee in CM/ECF it will direct you to log in to PACER again which is an additional step from how you did it in Legacy CM/ECF. You can still enter a credit card and select Pay Now or select Pay Later, but when you do so you will be required to log in to PACER again.
I forgot my PACER login or password.
From the PACER logn page select Forgot my Password or Forgot My Username. If you forgot your username, you will need your PACER account number or you will need to contact PACER directly at (800) 676-6856.
Important: The court is live on NextGen so your PACER login is your CM/ECF login, as long as you linked the accounts. The court will no longer be able to reset logins and passwords once the accounts are linked. You will have to contact PACER to recover logins or reset passwords.
I have information about bankruptcy fraud. Where do I report it?
The following link to the Bankruptcy Fraud Hotline contains information for reporting bankruptcy fraud.
I have linked my CM/ECF account and PACER account but no menus are displaying such as Bankruptcy or Adversary.
Make sure you followed the steps for linking your PACER and CM/ECF accounts. See How to Link a New or Upgraded PACER account to a NextGen CM/ECFaccount.
If you have linked your accounts correctly, try the following:
- Clearing you cache (i.e., internet cookies, browsing history).
- Log out and log back in.
- Refresh you screen.
If I timely file a Proof of Claim, will I receive payment?
The answer to this question depends on the chapter under which the debtor files for bankruptcy. In a Chapter 11 or a Chapter 13, your right to receive payment will be set forth in the debtor’s plan of reorganization. In a Chapter 7 case, you may not receive payment unless the debtor has non-exempt assets that can be liquidated by the Chapter 7 trustee. For unsecured and undersecured creditors, the amount of payment will vary depending upon the value of the assets liquidated and the amount of claims filed against the debtor. Secured creditors generally retain their liens during the bankruptcy and can reduce their claim by liquidating their collateral after the automatic stay is lifted. 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 Notice of Bankruptcy Case.
Is bankruptcy information public information? Can anyone look at it?
The documents filed in a bankruptcy case are a matter of public record and can be reviewed by members of the general public at the Clerk's Office in Cedar Rapids or Sioux City during regular business hours at no charge. Attorneys, parties and those who have access to PACER may review documents filed in bankruptcy cases online at any time via their PACER access.
Is there a report that can help reconcile credit card charges made in CM/ECF?
ECF has a report that can be used to reconcile credit card charges. On the menu bar in ECF, click on Utilities>Internet Payment History. Type in the desired date range. The report will list all payment sthat have been made for filing fees either using the credit card module of ECF.
May I speak directly to the judge?
No. The Bankruptcy Rules prohibit any "ex parte" contact (communication between just you and the judge) with the Court in order to preserve the integrity of the Court and to prevent the appearance of any impropriety or allegations of preferential treatment for any party. The only time you may speak to the judge is when you are in the courtroom for a hearing in your case.
My credit card for PACER was not authorized, now what do I do?
You need to contact PACER to activate it if you cannot wait the 7-10 days for activation to come in the mail.
Although your PACER account is not activated you can still create the link with your CM/ECF account and be able to e-file. You just will not be able to view documents using PACER until your account has been activated by PACER. If you have a firm account for viewing documents, you can use that in the meantime.
My PACER account is linked to my CM/ECF account; however, when I click on Query I get an error message that says there is an Issue with my PACER account.
This means your PACER account has not yet been activated. Contact PACER to have it activated or, if you did not enter a credt card number when you registered, you can wait until activation comes in the mail from PACER in 7-10 days from registering.
Note: You can still e-file if your PACER account has not been activated, you just cannot view documents.
Since each attorney will have their own PACER account, do they need to use their own credit card for PACER fees or can they use the firm credit card?
Attorneys can enter whichever credit card they want when they register for PACER. They do not have to use their own credit card.
We have one PACER account that all attorneys in the firm share. Does each attorney need his/her own individual PACER Account for NextGen?
You can keep that one PACER account for case research only. However, each attorney with an e-filing account with the court needs his or her own individual PACER account.
Go to pacer.uscourts.gov to register for your own PACER account.
See Registering for a PACER Account for instructions.
Did you upgrade your PACER account on the PACER website? If you are not sure, log in to your PACER account and select Manage My Account and see what type of account you have.
If the Account Type is Legacy PACER Account, click on the Upgrade link and complete the upgrade process. If the Account Type says Upgraded, then you are ready for NextGen.
What are bankruptcy schedules and your statement of financial affairs for bankruptcy?
These documents provide information about the debtor’s assets and liabilities. In these documents, the debtor describes the nature and value of his or her property and lists the nature and amount of debts, the names and addresses of creditors, and the debtor’s current income and expenditures. The statement of financial affairs for bankruptcy requires the debtor to disclose certain historic information about his or her financial affairs. These documents must be fully completed and are signed by the debtor under penalty of perjury.
What are claims? How are claims filed?
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.
What are Local Rules?
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
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. 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 fee schedules 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.
What are the different "chapters" in a bankruptcy?
The Bankruptcy Code is divided into several chapters. When a debtor files a case, the debtor elects which chapter he or she will proceed. The different chapters have varying procedures for repaying debt and obtaining a discharge.
Chapter 7: Often called the "liquidation chapter," Chapter 7 cases may be filed by individual or non-individuals (corporations or partnerships). There is no debt limitation under Chapter 7; however, certain individuals may not be eligile for Chapter 7 relief under the "Means Test." 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 11: Chapter 11 and the remaining chapters of the Bankruptcy Code offer the debtor a chance to reorganize through a repayment plan. Creditors vote on whether to accept or reject a plan of reorganization, which must be approved by the court. While the debtor normally remains in control of the assets in a Chapter 11, the court can convert the case to a Chapter 7 case or order the appointment of a trustee in certain circumstances. In addition to the filing fee paid to the bankruptcy clerk, a quarterly fee is paid to the U.S. Trustee in Chapter 11 cases. There is no debt limit under Chapter 11.
Chapter 12: Chapter 12 offers bankruptcy relief to individuals, corporations, or partnerships who qualify as family farmers, a term defined under the Bankruptcy Code. 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: 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.
What can I do if a creditor continues to try to collect on a debt from me that was discharged in my bankruptcy case?
The best course of action will depend on the specific facts involved. It is recommended that a debtor contact an attorney with any questions. Making the creditor aware that the discharge order was entered and that the order applies to the creditor’s debt often resolves the collection action. If the creditor continues its attempts to collect a discharged debt, the discharge order may be used as a viable defense to the collection action. The debtor may also file an appropriate pleading in the Bankruptcy Court for a determination that the debt was discharged or alternatively to seek damages for a creditor’s violation of a discharge order.
What can I do if a creditor keeps trying to collect money after I have filed bankruptcy?
If the creditor continues to attempt to collect a debt after the bankruptcy is filed, the creditor may be in violation of the automatic stay. If you have an attorney, you should immediately notify him or her of the creditor’s collection efforts. If you are not represented, you may provide notice to the creditor that you have filed bankruptcy including documents such as the bankruptcy petition and Notice of Filing; these documents may assist the creditor in determining your status as a debtor in bankruptcy who may be protected by the automatic stay. If the creditor continues an attempt to collect, you may be entitled to take legal action against the creditor. Any such legal action brought against the creditor may be complex and will normally require representation by a qualified bankruptcy attorney.
What documents do I need to start a bankruptcy?
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.
What does it mean if a case is dismissed? If my case is dismissed, are my fees still owed?
A dismissal order ends the case and removes most matters from the Bankruptcy Court’s jurisdiction. Dismissal does not mean the case was never filed or erase the case from the Court’s records. The filing of the case and the dismissal remain a matter of record. 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 may contain a bar or prejudice period that prohibits the debtor from refiling another bankruptcy case.
The filing fee is due even if your case is dismissed.
What does the Clerk's Office do?
The Clerk's Office provides a variety of services to the bankruptcy judges, attorneys and the public. Clerk's Office staff provide clerical and administrative support to the Bankruptcy Court by maintaining case-related files, issuing notices, collecting authorized fees, entering judgments and orders, and setting hearings. The services provided by the Clerk's Office to attorneys and the public also include responding to requests for information and making copies of papers in bankruptcy court files.
What form of payment does the Clerk's Office accept?
Debtors may pay with exact cash, cashier's check, or postal money order. However, the Clerk's Office does not accept two-party checks, personal checks, or credit cards from the debtor in bankruptcy.
Certain payments (e.g., installment filing fees) may be paid online via ACH or debit card.
What identification do I need for entering the Courthouse?
All adult visitors and unaccompanied minors will need to present valid government-issued picture identification (driver's license, state identification card, passport, or immigration card) for entry into the Court’s buildings. A valid government-issued picture identification is also required for entry into the Meeting of Creditors.
What if a case I am interested in has been sent to the archive center?
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.
What if I do not agree with an Order entered in a case?
A Notice of Appeal may be filed after an Order or Judgment has been entered in a case. In a Notice of Appeal, the party filing the Appeal, the appellant, wishes to reverse the Order or Judgment granted in favor of the other party, the appellee. When an Appeal is filed in the Northern District of Iowa, the matter may be elected to the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel (BAP) or District Court by the appellant at the time of filing the Notice of Appeal and Statement of Election.
Click here for more information on filing an appeal.
What information must I remove from my filings and what is "redaction"?
Bankruptcy Rule 9037 provides that certain identifying information should not be included or redacted from papers filed with the bankruptcy court. Pursuant to Federal Bankruptcy Rule 9037, social security and financial account numbers should be redacted to the last four digits, the names of minors should be redacted to the minor’s initials, and the date of an individual’s birth should be redacted to the year.
Redaction may be accomplished by blacking-out or whiting-out the foregoing information from the document filed. In certain instances, parties have attempted to use a tool in Adobe Acrobat to hide information in a PDF filed with the Court; however, this information may still be visible to some court users. Thus, it is recommended that you manually redact information and scan the document before filing the document with the Court.
Failure to redact the foregoing information may result in the court ordering you to file an amended document with the information redacted. In some cases, the court has sanctioned creditors that failed to redact this information.
What is "credit counseling"? Where do I take this course?
In order to be eligible to file for bankruptcy, an individual debtor must receive credit counseling within 180 days prior to filing a bankruptcy petition unless he or she qualifies for a temporary waiver of the requirement under 11 U.S.C. § 109(h)(3) or an exemption from the requirement under 11 U.S.C. § 109(h)(4) of the Bankruptcy Code. Specifically, the law requires the debtor to receive from an approved agency a briefing to outline the opportunities available for credit counseling and the creation of a financial management plan. This may be done in an individual or group session and may be completed in person, on the phone, or even via the Internet. The Court facilitates access to credit counseling by the public use of a telephone or computer to obtain such counseling. A timely certificate of credit counseling is required and must be filed with the Court.
A list of court-approved credit counselors is available on the U.S. Trustee’s website or from this hyperlink: Approved Credit Counseling Agencies.
What is "financial management"? Where do I take the course?
The "Certification About a Financial Management Course" in Chapters 7 and 13 must be completed before a discharge is entered, unless the debtor qualifies for a temporary waiver or exemption from the requirement under 11 U.S.C. § 109(h).
Chapter 7: If you have filed a Chapter 7 petition, you must complete a course in personal financial management and file your certification with the Court within 45 days of the first date set for the Meeting of Creditors or your case will be closed without a discharge. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1007
Chapter 13: If you have filed a Chapter 13 petition, you must complete a course in personal financial management and file your certification with the Court no later than the last payment made as required by the plan or the filing of a motion for entry of discharge under § 1328(b), or your case will be closed without a discharge. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1007(b)(7).
The U.S. Trustee's Office provides a list of Approved Financial Management Course Providers.
What is "Property of the Estate"?
“Property of the Estate” is a term of art used in the Bankruptcy Code. The term includes nearly all of the debtor’s property at the time the debtor files the petition. In a Chapter 13 case, the term also includes a debtor’s post-petition wages and other property that the debtor acquires before the case is closed. Property of the Estate is protected by the automatic stay absent a lifting of the stay by court order or operation of law.
What is a bankruptcy petition? What is a joint petition?
A bankruptcy petition is a form that a debtor files to commence a case before the Bankruptcy Court. The debtor elects in the document the bankruptcy chapter under which he or she will proceed and provides certain other required identifying information. The document is signed by the debtor under penalty of perjury. Married individuals are allowed to file a joint petition whereby a single bankruptcy case is commenced for the two married individuals.
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. 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 (usually 90-120 days after the case was filed) 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 B423) or 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 (3-5 years), 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.
What is a meeting of creditors (§341 meeting)? What can I expect to happen there?
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.
What is a Meeting of Creditors?
The Meeting of Creditors, also known as a 341 Meeting (so-called after § 341 of the Bankruptcy Code), is a meeting that a debtor is required to attend after filing for bankruptcy. The meeting is conducted by the case trustee or the U.S. Trustee. The bankruptcy judge does not attend this meeting. The debtor must appear at this meeting and testify under oath about his or her financial condition, assets, and liabilities. The debtor will be asked questions about the information contained in the bankruptcy paperwork filed with the Court. Creditors may also attend this meeting and may question the debtor about his or her financial affairs. If a debtor fails to attend this required meeting, the case trustee may seek to dismiss the bankruptcy case. A debtor typically cannot receive a discharge in bankruptcy without attending this meeting.
The Meeting of Creditors is held within a certain time period after the bankruptcy case is commenced. Within about a week after the bankruptcy case is filed, the debtor will receive notice by mail of the date and time of the Meeting of Creditors, which will be contained in the Notice of Bankruptcy Case. The debtor is required to bring certain identification information to this meeting and the trustee may request further information about the debtor’s financial affairs.
What is a proof of claim?
A proof of claim is a document filed by a creditor that asserts a right to payment. In a Chapter 13 case, the creditor must file a proof of claim to receive payment from the Chapter 13 trustee under your plan. In a Chapter 7 case, creditors may be asked not to file a claim until the Chapter 7 trustee determines whether there are assets for distribution. Since the claim is filed with the Court, you may not necessarily receive a copy of the claim from the creditor. Your attorney can assist you in determining whether the claim is valid or should be disputed. You may use ePOC or Official Form B410 for filing a proof of claim on behalf of a creditor.
What is a reaffirmation agreement?
A reaffirmation agreement is an agreement by which a Chapter 7 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 B2400) and be accompanied by a Reaffirmation Agreement Cover Sheet (Form B427).
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 or the attorney has not signed the agreement, 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 dependents 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.
What is an executory contract and why must I assume or reject it?
Executory contracts are unfulfilled contracts whereby each party to the contract has remaining obligations. A typical example of such contracts is a lease for property, such as a home or a vehicle, or a rent-to-own agreement. In bankruptcy such contracts must be “assumed” for the debtor to continue to have rights under the agreement. As with reaffirmation agreements and redemption, the debtor must take timely action to assume his or her executory contracts, otherwise the contracts may be deemed “rejected” and the automatic stay may be lifted.
What is an Exemption?
An “exemption” is a statutory right that an individual debtor may exercise to exempt the equity in certain real and personal property from certain creditors. If there is no non-exempt equity in your property, after considering its value, consensual liens, and the amount of the exemption, then your trustee may determine that the property should not be sold for the benefit of your creditors or that such property should not be considered in determining the amount of your payment under a Chapter 13 plan. An exemption has no effect on the rights of a creditor with a consensual lien, such as a mortgage creditor or a creditor that financed the purchase of a vehicle.
A debtor takes an exemption by completing Schedule C.
What is bankruptcy software?
Bankruptcy petition preparation software creates the types of files required for electronic filing of bankruptcy cases to CM/ECF.
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Iowa neither requires nor recommends the use of petition preparation software, and cannot answer any technical questions regarding such software.
What is redemption?
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. Redemption is an alternative to reaffirmation. The property redeemed must be property that is exempt or that has been abandoned by the Chapter 7 trustee. With redemption, a debtor can often get liens released on personal possessions for much less than the underlying secured debt; however, unless the creditor consents to periodic payments, redemption must generally be made in one lump sum payment to the creditor. As with reaffirmation, the Bankruptcy Code imposes certain deadlines by which the debtor must seek redemption of his or her property.
What is the "means test"?
Individual debtors with primarily consumer debts who file a petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, 11, or 13 must complete an income-based “means test.” The means test calculates the difference between a debtor’s current monthly income (“CMI”) and his or her allowed expenses. The means test is intended to determine whether a debtor has the “means” to repay some percentage of his or her non-priority unsecured debts. In order to report and calculate a debtor’s CMI and allowed expenses for the completion of the means test, official forms B122A-1, B122A-1SUPP, and B122A-2 have been created for Chapter 7 debtors, B122B for individual 11 debtors, and B122C-1 and B122C-2 for Chapter 13 debtors. In a Chapter 7, the means test may determine whether there is a presumption of abuse by the debtor in seeking relief under Chapter 7. Forms B122B, B122C-1 and B122C-2 can be used to determine the appropriate payment plan for debtors in Chapters 11 and 13.
What is the "Notice of Chapter 7 (11,12,13) Bankruptcy Case" that I received?
You were named as a creditor in this case and are probably listed on the debtor's schedules. This Notice lists important dates and deadlines and should be reviewed carefully. Included in the Notice is the date set for the Meeting of Creditors and the deadline for filing a Proof of Claim, when applicable. In a Chapter 7 case, the Notice will contain a deadline to Object to Discharge. In a Chapter 13 case, the Notice will provide the date set for confirmation of the Chapter 13 plan and will also contain the deadline to Object to the Dischargeability of certain debts.
If you feel you were notified in error, contact the debtor's attorney to be removed from the case mailing matrix.
What is the automatic stay?
The filing of a bankruptcy petition automatically stays (stops) most actions against the debtor or the debtor's property, such as collections, foreclosures and repossessions. It is called "automatic" because the stay typically begins automatically at the time the bankruptcy case is filed with the Clerk's Office. There are certain exceptions to the automatic stay, such as if you have filed bankruptcy in the past and your case was dismissed (depending on the number of cases and the time period since dismissal of the previous case). Once the stay is in place, creditors are prohibited from taking certain actions against a debtor without permission from the Court. Some creditors, particularly those involved with repossessions or foreclosures, may immediately file a motion to lift the automatic stay with the Court to seek the ability to go forward with foreclosure or repossession actions. The legal authority for obtaining relief from the automatic stay can be found in section 362 of the Bankruptcy Code. See 11 U.S.C. § 362(d), Fed. R. Bankr. P. 4001.
What is the Bankruptcy Code?
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.
What is the Judgment Interest Rate?
On all judgments entered on and after December 21, 2000, interest is calculated from the date of the entry of the judgment at a rate equal to the weekly average 1-year constant maturity Treasury yield, as published by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, for the calendar week preceding the date of the judgment.
The interest information is available at the following Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website link: https://fred.stlouisfed.org/release/tables?rid=18&eid=290&od=. The applicable rate is listed under U.S. government securities - Treasury constant maturities - 1-year. The listed rate is applicable to a judgment entered in the week after the week ending on the date in the Period column. Rates for prior weeks can be found by selecting a different Period date at the top of the table.
What is the Plan of Reorganization?
The plan, generally filed by the debtor in a Chapter 13 case, states how the debtor proposes to pay their various debts. Creditors and other parties in interest are served with the plan and have an opportunity to object to a proposed plan. The plan does not become effective until the Court confirms it after a hearing. The form Chapter 13 plan used in this District is found here.
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What should I do if I cannot make my chapter 13 payment?
If the debtor cannot make a chapter 13 payment on time according to the terms of the confirmed plan, the debtor should contact his or her attorney, if represented, or the Chapter 13 trustee to explain the problem. Under certain circumstances, the Chapter 13 trustee may agree to allow the debtor to catch up on the missed plan payments. Significant changes in the debtor’s circumstances may require that the plan be amended by motion of the debtor. The debtor may also be able to seek a temporary stay of plan payments by filing a motion for a moratorium. The debtor may also seek an order for a hardship discharge to obtain a limited Chapter 13 discharge and end the Chapter 13 case if certain criteria are met. If the problem in payment is permanent and the debtor is no longer able to make payments under the plan, the trustee may request that the Bankruptcy Court dismiss the case or convert the case to one under another chapter.
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Where can I get information concerning bankruptcy procedures?
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.
Where do I file my initial bankruptcy and/or documents related to my case?
Court Filing Locations for the Northern District of Iowa
Who is the bankruptcy trustee?
The bankruptcy trustee is appointed in all Chapter 7, 12 and 13 cases and in some Chapter 11 cases. The trustee administers the bankruptcy estate and presides at the first meeting of creditors (also called the "341 meeting" ). In a Chapter 7 case, the trustee liquidates the debtor's assets by collecting and selling non-exempt estate property. In a Chapter 13 case, the trustee collects money from the debtor each month over a period of 3-5 years and distributes it to creditors according to the debtor's repayment plan. The trustee can require the debtor to provide information and documents before, during or after the meeting of creditors.
Who is the United States Trustee? What is the function of the U.S. Trustee?
The Office of the U.S. Trustee (UST) is an Executive Branch agency that is part of the Department of Justice. The UST is responsible for appointing bankrutptcy trustees to administer bankruptcy cases and scheduling meetings of creditors. The UST also identifies and helps investigate bankruptcy fraud and abuse.