Three Kinds of Information You Will Need from the Court
(Note: Court websites change often and links go out of date. If a link does not work, go to the home page for the court and look for the materials from there.)
Official Website of the
New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court
What you'll find there
You'll need to file your papers with one of the courthouses that serve the New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court.
Before COVID, you'd normally have to go there in person at least once to meet with the bankruptcy trustee for your 341 hearing. During the Coronavirus pandemic, those meetings were typically done by phone. Many coudts are still allowing that.
Where To Start
Before you file, there are three kinds of information you'll need to get from the court's website:
1. Info on Filing Without an AttorneyCourt "Pro Se" Info
Information specific to your district
You'll need information specifically about your particular court's procedures.
Fortunately, the New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court offers information specifically designed for people filing without an attorney. Virtually all courts link to the generic national information mentioned above. The New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court offers specific guidance about local procedures.
General information about how to file
If you're new to the bankruptcy process, the website of the US Courts Adminstrative Office now offers a basic orentation page for those filing bankruptcy without an attorney. The information inlcudes a Bankruptcy Basics video in English Spanish and Creole. The half hour video is split into chapters so you can go back and review parts that went by too fast the first time.
2. Local RulesLocal Rules - NYS
Each court has its own rules about filing procedure, how to list creditor's names and addresses, and they tend to be fussy about it.
You must comply with the details of the process, such as filing dates, filing procedures, fees, and a myriad of other bureaucratic wonderfulness. Depending on how poorly they're written, your court's local rules probably won't make much sense to you. Don't worry. You may not be affected by most of the rules.
However, you will need to follow the rules about filing procedure and how to format the creditors' "mailing matrix" (a list of creditor's names and addresses).
Your court publishes plain-English instructions for those filing without a lawyer in the New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court . Use that first, rather than trying to read the actual rules.
Chapters 6 and 7 of
How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
offer more information on what to look for in local rules and how to ask the court clerk for the information you need as you prepare your paperwork and fill in yourforms.
3. Court FormsLocal Forms
Bankruptcy is a forms-intensive process, kind of like doing a long tax return.
The main forms you use in bankruptcy are federal forms, used nationwide in all bankruptcy courts.
Your bankruptcy court may have additional local forms for the New York Southern District Bankruptcy Court for dealing with things like the list of creditors.
Other information from the court
Most courts link to a downloadable U.S. Courts publication called "Bankruptcy Basics." This offers a decent overview of Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy -- but has no information about how to actually file or fill in the mountain of forms.
Now most courts also link to a helpful YouTube video created by the Federal Courts that explains the bankruptcy process.