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Information for Pro Se Bankruptcy Filers

The information below is intended to answer common questions from pro se bankruptcy filers (persons filing their own cases without attorneys) and is not legal advice. This information is subject to change without notice.

IMPORTANT: If you are thinking of filing a bankruptcy petition without an attorney, you should read Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney. This web page has been provided by the Administrative Office of the United States Courts' Judges Advisory Group and contains information to consider before filing a petition along with links to other helpful resources.


What Type of Petition May I File?


What Else Should I Know Before Filing?

Minimum Requirements to Initiate Bankruptcy Case:

Notice of Deficient Filing:
Under each of the Chapter "Filing Requirements" headings for chapter 7, 11, 12 and 13 cases, the asterisk at the noted bullet items identifies the papers you must file to initiate a bankruptcy case. You must file these items to avoid dismissal of your case. You will be issued a Notice of Deficient Filing and a show cause hearing may be scheduled before the Court if all of the documents set forth in each of the Chapter "Filing Requirements" headings are not received at the time of filing, except as specifically stated below.

For All Chapters:
You have fourteen days from the date the petition is filed to file:

  • Schedules
  • Statement of Financial Affairs
  • Statement of Monthly Income/Means Test

For Chapter 12 Cases:
Except as otherwise provided by local bankruptcy rule, if you fail to file either a plan or a motion to extend the time to file a plan within ninety days after the filing of the petition, your case will be dismissed.

For Chapter 13 Cases:
You have fourteen days to file: Chapter 13 Plan

PLEASE NOTE: Corporations and partnerships must be represented by an attorney when filing for bankruptcy. Palazzo v. Gulf Oil Corp. 764 F.2d 1381 (11th Cir. 1985)

Means Testing Information:

Bankruptcy Forms B122A (Statement of Your Current Monthly Income) and B122 C (Statement of Your Current Monthly Income and Calculation of Commitment Period) are Official Bankruptcy Forms which most individual debtors filing for bankruptcy relief are required to complete beginning October 17, 2005. Bankruptcy Form B122A is the form most chapter 7 debtors will complete. Form B122C is the form most chapter 13 debtors will complete. These Official Bankruptcy Forms can be found on the Forms page of our web site.

Information and links to data required to complete the appropriate Means Test Forms (122A or 122C), can be found at the following site:

Meeting of Creditors (All Chapters):

After your petition is filed, a notice will be mailed to you and your creditors giving the location, date and time of the meeting of creditors (341 Meeting). This notice will also include the name and address of your trustee. Please read your notice carefully. Some 341 Meetings are not held in the courthouse.

You may be required to present a photo identification when entering the courthouse, and you must provide a daytime phone number on your petition. A photo identification is required at the Meeting of Creditors, along with verification of your social security number.

Filing Fees:

You may pay the filing fee in up to four installments in a chapter 7 or chapter 13 case. An Application and Order to Pay Filing Fee in Installments must be filed with the Petition and approved by the Court. This form is available from the Clerk's Office and on the Court's website under Forms.

The filing fees are as follows:
Chapter 7
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13

See Additional Fees.
Acceptable Forms of Payment:
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama accepts money orders, cashier's and traveler's checks. Personal checks from the debtor, two-party checks, and post-dated checks will not be accepted. Effective October 1, 2013, cash will not be accepted.

All filing fees and payments (other than CH 13 payments paid through trustee) should be made payable to Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, and mailed directly to:

U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern Division
1800 5th Avenue North
Birmingham, AL  35203

*Include debtor's name and case number on payment.


Official Forms & Petition Preparation:
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama does not supply the official forms required for filing bankruptcy. You may purchase the forms from a local office supply store or download applicable forms from the Forms page on the Court's website. If someone other than an attorney assists you with the preparation of the bankruptcy forms, you must disclose the name of the preparer on the petition.

Protecting Your Social Security Number:
Individuals filing bankruptcy will place only the last four digits of their social security number on the bankruptcy petition. Individuals are required to submit, with the bankruptcy petition, a separate Statement About Your Social Security Numbers (Form B121), in which their full social security number is given. This Statement of Social Security Number(s) is not part of the public record and will not be available to the public. Official form B121 is available on the following website: under “Bankruptcy Forms.”

Any schedule or supporting document filed with the Court should not include: 1) the names of minor children - use only initials, 2) birthdates - use only the year of birth, and 3) financial account numbers.

Legal Advice & Resources
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama is not permitted to assist you with preparing your petition, schedules, or other documents. Nor can we provide you legal advice. Your local library has law books that may assist you. "Bankruptcy Basis" and "Filing for Bankruptcy Without an Attorney" links on our website may also assist you.

Appropriate Courtroom Attire & Conduct
All persons present in a courtroom where a trial, hearing, or other proceeding is in progress must dress and conduct themselves in a manner demonstrating respect for the Court. Traditional business attire is considered appropriate. Jeans, shorts, and t-shirts are not appropriate. Please review our "Courtroom Attire and Conduct" policy.

Retaining Your Records
You should keep copies of your petition, schedules, Order of Discharge and, if applicable, your Order of Dismissal. You may wish to obtain copies of other pertinent documents.

Credit Rating & Reports
The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama is not responsible for credit reports. Bankruptcy records are public records, and the information contained in them can be retrieved by anyone. Any disputes you have with a credit agency must be resolved by you and that agency.