Caution Before Proceeding Without a Lawyer
Filing Bankruptcy is a Serious Decision
While individuals appearing as debtors (including spouses filing jointly), creditors or other interested parties before this court do not have to be represented by a lawyer, it is recommended you meet with a lawyer before you file so that you can carefully consider your options.
If you choose to represent yourself, you will be expected to comply with applicable law and procedures just like a lawyer. This includes the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.The judges, judge's staff, clerk, or clerk's staff are not permitted to provide legal advice and/or speak (or correspond, including email) with you in an ex parte communication (which means without the other side present).
The court maintains a list of attorneys who have agreed to consult with low income debtors for a reduced or deferred fee. Please note that these attorneys are not required to take on your case and are free to negotiate a reasonable fee. The attorneys on this list are not recommended or endorsed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court; the court is merely serving as a medium to connect attorneys with low income debtors.
Click here for low cost Chapter 7 assistance.
Click here for low cost Chapter 13 assistance.
- Find an Attorney: Only an attorney is qualified to give you legal advice. For resources on how to find a licensed attorney, what to do if you have trouble with your attorney, and legal assistance projects, visit the Find an Attorney page.
- No Cost Legal Advice: The Debtor Assistance Project (DAP) is a clinic that operates at the Court and can provide a free 30-minute consultation for debtors without an attorney. To schedule an appointment with the clinic, visit the Debtor Assistance Project page.
- Petition Preparers and Document Preparers
- Creditors Filing without an Attorney
- Maryland's Public Law Libraries
Do I Need an Attorney?
Based on filing data in Maryland, Chapter 13 cases filed by self-represented debtors are more likely to be dismissed and significantly less likely to be discharged than cases with legal counsel. Only two percent of Chapter 13 debtors who file cases without an attorney receive a discharge. See the Legal Assistance section on this page, which provides resources for finding low-cost and no-cost legal assistance.
Where Do I File?
You have several filing options. For information about visiting the Clerk's Office to file in person or to file through the after-hours dropbox, click here. You can mail your forms to either of our offices in Baltimore or Greenbelt. And for Chapter 7 cases only, self-represented individuals can submit a petition for filing using the Electronic Self Representation (eSR) online tool, which you can access by clicking here.
How Much Does it Cost to File?
- Chapter 7 - $338
- Chapter 13 - $313
Cash, Cashier's Checks, or Money Orders are the only form of payment accepted from Self-Represented Parties. Personal checks are not accepted. Cash is accepted at the public intake windows only, not by mail or the courthouse drop boxes. See the forms sections below for fee waiver or fee installment applications. Once a case number is assigned, you can also pay electronically with a debit card via Pay.gov. See the Filing Fees page for more information.
What forms do I need to file?
- Barebones: Below are the limited documents needed for a “Barebones” filing, which may be used when debtors need to file quickly.
- Chapter 7: The documents needed for a complete Chapter 7 filing can be found here.
- Chapter 13: The documents needed for a complete Chapter 13 filing can be found here.
If circumstances arise where a debtor cannot complete all required schedules and statements at the time of filing, the bankruptcy petition may still be filed by completing and filing the initial documents identified below. The remaining documents will be due within a certain period after the “barebones” petition is filed, usually 14 days.
- Notice to Individual Debtor Filing for Bankruptcy (Form 2010)
- Voluntary petition (B101)
- Verification of Matrix
- Creditor Mailing Matrix - MUST be typed or legibly handwritten in the required format, see instructions.
- Statement of Social Security Number (B121)
- Certificate of Credit Counseling - provided by a certified credit counseling agency
- Filing Fee Payment or Fee Application:
- Filing fee payment, in the form of cash, certified check, or money order. Once a case number is assigned, you can also pay electronically by ACH or with a debit card via Pay.gov.
- Application for Filing Fee in Installments (B103A)
- Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Fee (B103B)
Please Note: It is recommended that an extra copy of your forms be brought into the Court to be stamped and retained for your personal records or you can include a self-addressed stamped envelope with your documents if filing by mail. All forms are available for download on the Court’s website.
Processing Amended Forms
Schedules B106, B106D, B106E and/or B106F are the forms for adding new creditors. A $32 fee is due at the time of submission. Label schedules as “AMENDED.” A Certificate of Service MUST accompany incoming documents and amended filings.
An amended matrix is required when creditors who were not listed on the original matrix are added to the schedules. See How to Create a Matrix for further guidance. A Certificate of Service is also required to show which new creditors were mailed copies of the Notice of Bankruptcy Case form, with the meeting of creditors information.
A creditor is a person or entity to whom the debtor owes money, or who claims the debtor owes them money.
General Creditor Information
- For general information, including whether you can file documents without an attorney, visit the Information for Creditors without an Attorney page.
- How to view bankruptcy documents
- Documents can be reviewed electronically by visiting PACER.
- Documents can be reviewed free of charge at the Clerk’s Office, in Greenbelt or in Baltimore, and copies can be printed for $0.50 per page.
- Fees Review the Court Fees & Costs for information on the fees required for filing adversary proceedings, motions, appeals, and other filings.
- Instruction Sheet -- Landlord & Tenant under § 362(b)(22) and (l)
- Attending Hearings: When appearing before the Court, please keep in mind the Courtroom Procedures.
- Access to Tax Information: The procedure for requesting and obtaining access to tax information with the U.S. Trustee under 11 U.S.C. § 521(e) is available here.
- National Creditor Registration NCRS: The Bankruptcy Noticing Center offers free services provided by the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts, including the National Creditor Registration Service (NCRS), which gives creditors options to specify a preferred U.S. mail address, email address, or fax number to which bankruptcy notices should be sent.
Filing Certain Pleadings
- Top 10 Filing Errors
- Preparing a Certificate of Service
- Proofs of Claims:
- Examples of Pleading Captions (Templates)
- Filing a Motion for Relief from the Automatic Stay
- Adversary Proceedings: Lawsuits over the property or property rights of a debtor’s bankruptcy estate or discharge are called adversary proceedings. When filing such an action, you must include an Adversary Proceeding Cover Sheet unless you are filing electronically through the Court’s Case Management/Electronics Case Filing System (CM/ECF). Federal Rule 7001 contains a list of matters subject to adversary proceedings. See Local Bankruptcy Rule 7003-1 and the Guide to Filing an Adversary Complaint for additional information.