Useful Information for Debtors Without Attorney Representation (pro se)
USEFUL INFORMATION FOR DEBTORS WITHOUT ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy without attorney representation, we strongly recommend you watch the following videos and written instructions under this link. This information will provide you with a better understanding of the bankruptcy process, the different chapters under which a bankruptcy case may be filed and can assist you in determining if this is the best option for you.
Click here to view the Bankruptcy Basics videos.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
Bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal consequences - hiring a competent attorney is strongly recommended. While it is possible to file a bankruptcy case pro se (i.e. without the assistance of an attorney), it may be difficult to do so successfully.
If you are representing yourself without the benefit of an attorney, you are known as a pro se litigant. Pro se is a Latin term meaning "for yourself". As a pro se litigant, you enjoy every right entitled to you under the law. You need not worry if you have had little or no experience with the courts before. However, pro se debtors are expected to adhere to the bankruptcy code and rules, the court's local rules and procedures and all the applicable clerk's office and court imposed deadlines. Failure to do so may result in your case being dismissed. Pro se litigants should be familiar with the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure and the Local Rules of this court.
Corporations and partnerships must have an attorney to file a bankruptcy case. The Fifth Circuit has clearly held on multiple occasions that a corporation cannot appear in federal court unless it is represented by an attorney. See Southwest Express Co. v. ICC, 670 F.2d 53, 55 (5th Cir.1982); Donovan v. Road Rangers Country Junction, Inc., 736 F.2d 1004, 1005 (5th Cir.1984) (per curiam). If a chapter 7 corporate case is not represented by an attorney, the U.S. Trustee will, in all likelihood, file a motion to dismiss the case.
What is Required to File a Bankruptcy Case?
Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments (NOTE: Only If not able to pay the fee in full)
Application for Waiver of Filing Fee (NOTE: Only for Chapter 7 cases)
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 requires individuals filing under Chapter 7 and 13 must receive an approved credit counseling briefing in order to be eligible to file a bankruptcy case. Failure to do so may result in dismissal of the case. In addition to the credit counseling briefing, the court is restricted from granting a discharge to debtors who are required, but have failed, to complete an instructional course in financial management. Failure to do so may result in the case being closed without a discharge. Please click on Credit Counseling Services and Financial Management Courses to access a list of approved credit counselors for the Northern District of Texas.
Pro se debtors (debtors without attorney representation) must present a valid State of Texas Driver's License or State of Texas ID Card, Social Security Card and B21 - Statement of Social Security Number(s) at the time of filing. If you do not have a Social Security Card, contact your local Social Security Office. Locations, phone numbers, and office hours for the Social Security Office are available at: www.socialsecurity.gov or (800) 772-1213.
All schedules, statements and any papers submitted for filing should be submitted on a clearly labeled diskette or CD-ROM. The diskette or CD-ROM label should contain the debtor(s) name and address. All documents should be in PDF format except for the mailing matrix (list of creditors) which should be in text (txt.) format. The BTXN006 - Application To Pay Filing Fee In Installments, which is available on our website, must be completed and accompanied by a minimum $50.00 filing fee for the court to consider your request to pay in installments. If your application to pay in installments is approved, you will be permitted to complete payment of the fee over the course of three months.
Most individual debtors filing for bankruptcy relief are required to complete either Official Bankruptcy Form 22A or 22C (Statement of Current Monthly Income and calculations). Bankruptcy Form 22A is the form chapter 7 debtors will complete for "means testing" purposes; Form 22C is the form chapter 13 debtors will complete. The Official Bankruptcy Forms can be found on the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts website.
If you are filing a Chapter 7 as an individual (or individual in a jointly filed case) and cannot afford to pay the fee either in full at the time of filing or in installments, then you may request a waiver of the filing fee (Application for Waiver of Filing Fee Form B3B).
Complete all items in the application, attach any requested information and sign the application. If you and your spouse are filing a joint bankruptcy petition, both of you must provide information as requested and sign the application.
The court accepts cash, money orders, bank cashier's checks, and traveler's checks from debtors. Personal checks, two-party checks, and postdated checks are not acceptable. Money orders, cashier's checks, and travelers checks must be made payable to Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Exact change is required for all fees as no change will be given. The filing fee is due at the time of filing according to L.B.R. 5081.1.
If a petition preparer presents your case for filing, a copy of the petition preparer's driver's license or State of Texas ID Card is required. The petition preparer must complete and sign the related section of the petition. A Declaration and Signature of Non-Attorney Bankruptcy Petition Preparer and Notice to Debtor by Non-Attorney Bankruptcy Petition Preparer (Form 19) must also be filed.
WHAT YOUR SIGNATURE MEANS?
If you are a debtor, your signature on the petition and statements and schedules constitutes an oath that the information is accurate and complete. The Bankruptcy Code provides serious penalties for false statements (see section 727(a)(4)(A). Title 18 of the United States Code (Crimes and Criminal Procedure) section 152 also makes it a crime to knowingly and fraudulently omit property, make a false oath or account, or make a false declaration or verification. If you are a creditor, U.S.C. section 152 makes it a crime to knowingly and fraudulently present a false claim.
Finding an Attorney, including Free Legal Services
Debtors are strongly encouraged to obtain the services of competent legal counsel. Even if you cannot afford to pay an attorney, you may be able to qualify for free legal services. For information about hiring an attorney, or about free (also known as "pro bono") legal services, contact your state or local bar association. Some of the organizations which provide such services are listed below:
Dallas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
8:30 A.M.. – 4:30 P.M.. Monday through Friday
Se habla espanol
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
1515 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201
Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (LANWT)
1515 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201