Many of our clients have been calling with questions regarding their bankruptcies, which were filed just before the COVID-19 pandemic closed down courts across the country. Some are wondering about a bankruptcy they were just about to file. Stimulus bills and laws have been enacted to help individuals and businesses through these unprecedented times, but it is not easy to sift through all of the information and find the answers to your bankruptcy-specific questions.
We put together this amalgamation of COVID-19 and bankruptcy related questions and answers for folks who filed bankruptcy before the pandemic hit. If you have questions about your bankruptcy court or important deadlines or hearings for your particular case, your attorney should be able to provide you with those answers. You can also go to your bankruptcy court’s website and look for updates on the homepage or check out the “News” section.
Can I File My Bankruptcy Petition with Courts Closed?
Courthouses might be closed to the public, but they are still functioning behind the scenes. If you are filing your bankruptcy pro se, you should still be able to fax, email, or drop off your forms at the courthouse. Most courts have a dropbox located on the outside of the building.
One thing you should consider before filing your bankruptcy petition, though, is how this pandemic is going to affect your financial situation over the next few months. If you or your spouse are furloughed or unemployed due to COVID-19, your financial situation could become worse before it gets better. Additionally, lack of income might affect your bankruptcy.
For instance, if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will not be able to prove that you can make payments to your creditors until your income is back to normal. In other words, you might want to wait to file bankruptcy until the full implications of this pandemic pan out.
I Filed My Bankruptcy Petition by Fax, Email, Mail, or Dropbox - How Will I Know if the Court Filed Them?
Once the court enters your bankruptcy petition, you will be contacted either by phone or email (if you signed up for Debtor Electronic Bankruptcy Noticing or DeBN). If you sent your forms in the mail, the confirmation should arrive in your mailbox in about a week or two.
How Do I Pay the Filing Fee?
You will have to check with your bankruptcy court to find out how to handle paying the filing fee. The courts will not accept cash or a personal check. You can usually pay by money order, cashier’s check, or your court might have an online payment system you can use.
What if I Need to Go To Court?
You should check with your bankruptcy court to determine whether or not it is open to the public right now. Most court dates have been postponed, so you should make sure that it is absolutely necessary to visit the courthouse before you go.
Will My Bankruptcy Case Take Longer Than Usual?
Unfortunately, there may be delays. Even the courts that are open right now are functioning with a limited amount of staff, and many employees are working remotely. Documents might take longer than normal to process and while some courts are rescheduling 341 meetings and hearings, others are conducting them via phone.
Are My Deadlines More Lax Now?
You should be prepared to comply with all of the deadlines in your bankruptcy case, including:
Due dates for required payments;
- The deadline to cure any filing deficiencies;
- The deadline to submit your Debtor Education course certificate; and
- Any deadlines the trustee imposes for document requests.
There are no laws postponing bankruptcy deadlines at this time, so it is in your best interest to meet deadlines. Missing a deadline could result in your case being dismissed.
Is My Automatic Stay Affected COVID-19?
Your automatic stay will not be affected by COVID-19. It will remain in place until the court discharges your case. If your case is dismissed by the court for any reason, the automatic stay will terminate, however.
Should I Contact My Creditors?
Absolutely not. The courts should provide appropriate notice to any parties in your bankruptcy case as the bankruptcy rules and laws stipulate. You are not responsible for communicating with your creditors while your bankruptcy is processing.
Are You Considering Filing For Bankruptcy?
If you feel bankruptcy is the best option for your financial situation you need to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our office directly at 888.348.2616 to schedule your free consultation.