When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must fill out a packet of forms. These consist of a “voluntary petition,” a number of other forms called “schedules,” and some additional forms. Often the whole packet is referred to as the “bankruptcy petition.”
These forms are issued by the federal government, and are referred to as the “official” bankruptcy forms.
Where to Get the Official Forms
You can find copies of the official bankruptcy forms on the website of the United States Courts at www.uscourts.gov/FormsAndFees/Forms/BankruptcyForms.aspx. From the website, you can print out blank copies of the forms. Or you can fill them in online and print the completed forms.
Local Forms and Requirements
In addition to the official forms that every bankruptcy court uses, your local bankruptcy court may require you to file one or two additional forms that it has developed. Your local bankruptcy court may also have special requirements or rules for filing your petition.
You can also get these forms and requirements from the bankruptcy court clerk or a local bankruptcy attorney.
You might also find local forms and requirements on the particular bankruptcy court’s website. To find your local bankruptcy court’s website, go to www.justice.gov/courtlinks for a list of links to local courts. Or try www.uscourts.gov/court_locator.aspx.
Filing the Forms
If an attorney is representing you in your bankruptcy case, the attorney will prepare these forms (most likely using software) for your review and signature, and then file them electronically with the court.
If you are representing yourself, you must file the bankruptcy forms in person at the bankruptcy court. There is one exception to this procedure: Several courts have a pilot project which allows debtors without attorneys to file their forms electronically. More courts may be adding this feature in the future.
Check with your local court as to how many copies you’ll need to file (usually it’s an original and one copy), the order the forms should be in, and other requirements (such as, staples, hole punching, etc.)
Filing in the Right Bankruptcy Court
There are federal bankruptcy courts all over the country. The courts are divided into judicial districts. Every state has at least one judicial district; most have more. You can file in either:
- the district where you have been living for the greater part of the 180-day period before you file, or
- the district where you are domiciled—that is, where you maintain your home, even if you have been living elsewhere temporarily (such as on a military base).