GENERAL WARNING ABOUT PROCEEDING WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY
Filing for bankruptcy may be done without an attorney. However, it is highly recommended that you retain the services of an attorney to guide you through this complex process. The bankruptcy laws are very technical and you are required to complete and sign, under penalty of perjury, various official forms. Your failure to complete these forms truthfully and timely may result in the dismissal of your case and may adversely affect any future bankruptcy filing.
Only an attorney can give you legal advice. The Bankruptcy Court Clerk's Office staff is prohibited by law from providing legal advice and cannot aid debtors in the completion of required forms. Many typing and transcribing companies advertise as Bankruptcy Petition Preparers and for a fee they will complete your bankruptcy forms with information you provide. Bankruptcy Petition Preparers are NOT attorneys and may NOT give legal advice. Their failure to timely and accurately complete your official forms may result in the dismissal of your case and may adversely affect any future bankruptcy filing.
If you filed for bankruptcy in the past, the manner in which that case was disposed of may further complicate a new bankruptcy case. You may not be eligible to receive the protection of the automatic stay, the automatic stay may be limited or you may not be eligible to receive a discharge of debts. These are issues that warrant the advice of competent legal counsel.
Bankruptcy for a debtor has long-term financial and legal consequences. This court strongly encourages you to obtain the assistance of an attorney.
If you need help finding a bankruptcy attorney or you feel you cannot afford an attorney, please refer to The Florida Bar's website at: http://www.floridabar.org.
Orlando has a Bankruptcy Pro Se Assistance Clinic which is staffed by experienced bankruptcy attorney volunteers and offers free, on-site information and guidance to individuals who are representing themselves in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. More information can be found on their website at: http://cfbla.org/pro-se-assistance-clinic/
Volunteers from the Tampa Bay Bankruptcy Bar Association are available to help you with your case free of charge. Attorneys are available in the Attorney Resource Room on the 9th floor of the Courthouse. Click here for more information.
Please note: The Fort Myers Division does not have staffed Bankruptcy Clerk's Office.
The District Court's Clerk's Office at the Fort Myers Courthouse does not accept filings in bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy petitions and other papers filed by parties without an attorney MUST be filed by hand delivery or by mail at the Clerk's Office in the Tampa Division, located at 801 N. Florida Avenue, 5th Floor, Tampa, Florida 33602.
People talk openly about financial and economic problems, but there is little open discussion about the toll financial hardship can take on a person's health. Click here to learn more.
INFORMATION ABOUT THIS WEBPAGE
The information contained in this section is provided for the benefit of debtors seeking general information about the bankruptcy court or about the bankruptcy process.
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. It is recommended that a person considering bankruptcy consult with a competent attorney prior to filing a case. Here is a link to the U.S. Courts website that contains more information on filing without an attorney: www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/prose.html
BEFORE CONTINUING, PLEASE READ THE NOTICE TO ALL DEBTORS
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BANKRUPTCY BASICS VIDEO
What is bankruptcy? What happens in a bankruptcy case? Bankruptcy is a legal process that provides relief for individuals who can no longer pay all of their debts. If you are considering bankruptcy, this video will give you basic information about the process, the relief it offers, and how to find the legal help you may need. Click here to view the video.
REQUIREMENTS TO FILE A CASE
REQUIREMENTS TO FILE A CHAPTER 7 CASE:
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for liquidation because non-exempt assets are taken from the debtor and sold with the proceeds distributed to creditors based on their priorities. Those who seek Chapter 7 bankruptcy may lose some of their property in exchange for a discharge of debt. Click here for more information.
REQUIREMENTS TO FILE A CHAPTER 11 CASE:
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing (generally) for reorganization, usually involving a corporation or partnership. A chapter 11 debtor usually proposes a plan of reorganization to keep its business alive and pay creditors over time. People in business or individuals can also seek relief in chapter 11. Click here for more information.
REQUIREMENTS TO FILE A CHAPTER 13 CASE:
The chapter of the Bankruptcy Code providing for adjustment of debts of an individual with regular income. Chapter 13 allows a debtor to keep property and pay debts over time, usually three to five years. Click here for more information.
Credit Counseling Agencies for the state of Florida
Providers of credit counseling and personal financial management courses are required to offer their services at no charge to persons who meet certain income limits. Some providers charge no fee at all regardless of a debtor's income. Therefore, before selecting a provider, debtors should request the fee schedule from providers approved to offer services in their state.
DISCLAIMER: The links on this web page contain information created and maintained by other public and private organizations. These links are provided for the user's convenience. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information nor does it control or guarantee the on-going availability, maintenance, or security of these Internet sites. Further, the inclusion of links is not intended to reflect their importance or to endorse any views expressed, or products or services offered, on these outside sites, or the organizations sponsoring the sites.