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Information for Debtors Without Attorney Representation (pro se)

USEFUL INFORMATION FOR DEBTORS WITHOUT ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION

Individuals can file bankruptcy without an attorney, which is called filing pro se. However, seeking the advice of a qualified attorney is strongly recommended because bankruptcy has long-term financial and legal outcomes. We strongly recommend you watch the following videos and review 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.

Filing personal bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 takes careful preparation and understanding of legal issues. Misunderstandings of the law or making mistakes in the process can affect your rights. Court employees and bankruptcy judges are prohibited by law from offering legal advice.

The following is a list of ways your lawyer can help you with your case.

  • Advise you on whether to file a bankruptcy petition.
  • Advise you under which chapter to file.
  • Advise you on whether your debts can be discharged.
  • Advise you on whether or not you will be able to keep your home, car, or other property after you file.
  • Advise of the tax consequences of filing.
  • Advise you on whether you should continue to pay creditors.
  • Explain bankruptcy law and procedures to you.
  • Help you complete and file forms.
  • Assist you with most aspects of your bankruptcy case.

Pro se litigants are expected to follow the rules and procedures in federal courts and should be familiar with the United States Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, and the local rules of the court in which the case is filed.

What is Required to File a Bankruptcy Case?

Credit Counseling Certificate

The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 requires individuals filing under Chapter 7 and 13 must receive credit counseling from a government approved organization within six months before they file 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.

If requesting an extension to take credit counseling, the following must be filed. BTXN 183 Request for Thirty-Day Extension of Time to Receive Credit Counseling

If requesting a permanent exemption from credit counseling, the following must be filed. BTXN 195 Request for Permanent Exemption From Credit Counseling

Texas Northern requires the following local forms:

          BTXN 222 TXNB Required Chapter 13 Plan Form

          BTXN 194 Verification of Mailing List (Creditor Matrix)

For access to other bankruptcy forms click here: Official Bankruptcy Forms

Social Security Card

Social Security Card and 121 - Statement of Social Security Number(s) is required 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.

Driver's License

Pro se debtors must present a valid State of Texas Driver's License or State of Texas ID Card at the time of filing.

Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments (NOTE: Only If not able to pay the fee in full)

The application to pay filing fee in installments must be completed 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.

Application for Waiver of Filing Fee (NOTE: Only for Chapter 7 cases)

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.

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.

Most individual debtors filing for bankruptcy relief are required to complete either Official Bankruptcy Form 122A-1 or 122C-1 (Statement of Current Monthly Income and calculations). Bankruptcy Form 122A-1 is the form chapter 7 debtors will complete for "means testing" purposes; Form 122C-1 is the form chapter 13 debtors will complete.

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. 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 119) 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.

Non-attorney Petition Preparers

If you file bankruptcy pro se, you may be offered services by non-attorney petition preparers. By law, preparers can only enter information into forms. They are prohibited from providing legal advice, explaining answers to legal questions, or assisting you in bankruptcy court. A petition preparer must sign all documents they prepare for you; print their name, address and social security on the documents; and provide you with a copy of all documents. They cannot sign documents on your behalf or receive payment for court fees.

Finding a Lawyer, Including Free Legal Services

If you need help finding a bankruptcy lawyer, the resources below may help. If you are unable to afford an attorney, you may qualify for free legal services.
 

Dallas Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service
(214) 220-7444
8:30 A.M.. – 4:30 P.M.. Monday through Friday
Se habla espanol
https://www2.dallasbar.org/referral/

Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program
1515 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 742-5768
http://dallasvolunteerattorneyprogram.org/

Legal Aid of Northwest Texas (LANWT)
1515 Main Street
Dallas, TX 75201
(214) 748-1234
http://www.lanwt.org