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Going to Court

What to expect when going to bankruptcy court, whether you’re headed to your creditors’ meeting or have a hearing before a bankruptcy judge.

What to expect when going to bankruptcy court, whether you’re headed to your creditors’ meeting or have a hearing before a bankruptcy judge.

This page is your home base for learning what going to court is like.

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What To Expect at Your 341 Meeting of Creditors

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Paige Hooper
Updated May 4, 2022

In your 341 meeting of creditors, the trustee in your case will verify your identity and the information in your bankruptcy petition. Creditors can also show up to ask questions, but this is rare. In this article and video, we’ll walk you through a typical 341 meeting of creditors in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What Can Go Wrong at the Meeting of Creditors?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated May 25, 2022

Not much can truly go wrong at the meeting of creditors. To avoid any potential issues, make sure to bring approved documents to prove your identity and Social Security number, read the Bankruptcy Information Sheet, and review your bankruptcy petition so you can answer any questions the trustee may have about your case. If someone from the U.S. Trustee's office or a creditor's attorney shows up to ask questions, try to stay calm and just answer their questions truthfully.

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4 things you should know about the bankruptcy court system

Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz
Updated August 9, 2020

The bankruptcy court oversees bankruptcy cases filed in the United States. The court maintains the records for all bankruptcy cases.

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What To Bring To Your 341 Meeting Of Creditors

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated September 3, 2020

You should bring your ID and social security card.

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Do You Have to Go To Court to File Bankruptcy?

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock Morel
Updated July 20, 2023

Most bankruptcy filers don’t have to attend any formal court proceedings before a judge. There are some rare exceptions to this, but most of the time you’ll only go to court to file your paperwork with the clerk. You'll have to attend a meeting of creditors, but this won’t be held in a courtroom or before a judge. Some of these meetings are held outside the courthouse or virtually.

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Telephonic Hearings in Bankruptcy Court

Written by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated August 9, 2020

A hearing is an appearance in court where one or more parties to the case show up in the courtroom to present something to the judge. A telephonic hearing is exactly what the name suggests: a court hearing that takes place over the telephone.

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Bankruptcy Court - A Definition

Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz
Updated May 11, 2023

The bankruptcy court is a federal court that oversees all bankruptcy cases filed in the United States.

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3 Important Players in Bankruptcy Court

Written by Attorney Jamie Lee Ruiz
Updated August 9, 2020

In addition to the person filing bankruptcy, other individuals who will play an important role in your bankruptcy case are your case trustee, your bankruptcy judge, and - if you have one - your bankruptcy attorney. Let’s take a look at some of the important players -other than your creditors - that you may encounter in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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What Happens In Small Claims Court?

Written by Lawyer John Coble
Updated July 22, 2021

In small claims court, the rules and procedures are relaxed so that non-lawyers can argue their own cases. Court costs, such as filing fees, are lower. As a result, small claims court hearings are much less expensive. This article will explore what kinds of cases you can bring to a small claims court and how this court differs from other courts.

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Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court

Written by the Upsolve TeamLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated October 1, 2021

The statute of limitations is the law that regulates how long a party has to assert a claim through the legal system and small claims courts provide simplified proceedings for people who have claims that aren’t worth a substantial amount. Generally, the statute of limitations remains unchanged if you bring a claim in small claims court. This article will explain a bit about defending yourself in your state’s small claims court and how the statute of limitations could affect your defense.

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6 Tips To Prepare for Small Claims Court

Written by Attorney Eric Hansen
Updated August 24, 2023

Small claims court is a judicial setting designed to handle simple legal disputes that are under a specific dollar amount. This amount varies by state. Small claims courts handle civil matters. They don’t hear criminal, immigration, constitutional, child protection, workers’ compensation, appeals, federal, or probate cases. Here are 6 tips to succeed with your small claims case: 1. Learn about the court processes 2. Prepare your case 3. Prepare your witnesses 4. Practice presenting your case 5. Show the court due respect 6. Be prepared to follow up after the court's judgment

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Should I Seek Legal Advice From a Small Claims Attorney?

Written by Attorney Eric Hansen
Updated October 31, 2021

Many people represent themselves successfully because small claims courts are more accessible and simpler by design. The court proceedings are meant to be a reasonably fast and relatively inexpensive way to resolve disputes.

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How Do You Cancel (Vacate) a Court Judgment?

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated November 11, 2023

If a judge has issued a default judgment against you, you may be able to have it vacated (canceled) by filing a formal request with the court. This request is called a motion. To successfully have a default judgment vacated, you’ll need to have a good reason for not participating in the lawsuit that led to the default judgment. You should also have your defenses for the original lawsuit prepared. If the court approves the motion, it will review the original debt collection case.

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How To Respond to a Pennsylvania Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 3, 2024

In Pennsylvania, if a debt collection lawsuit has been filed against you, the first thing you need to do is file a Notice of Intention to Defend. You can do this by either calling your court or going in person. If you disagree with the claims against you, you can explain your defenses in your notice. Then, follow any instructions from the court you receive via court notices or ask the court clerk about next steps.

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How To Answer an Alabama Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated January 10, 2024

Answering a debt lawsuit is easier than you might think! You simply need to fill out an official court answer form, tell the court why you disagree with the lawsuit, and file the paperwork with the court. Then, you have to send a copy of your answer form to the person suing you. Finally, wait to get notice from the court about next steps. If you contest the lawsuit, the court will schedule a hearing date to hear both sides of the story.

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Your Guide to Alabama’s Debt Collection Laws

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated January 10, 2024

If you live in Alabama, the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is your strongest protection against bad behavior by third-party debt collectors. This law prohibits harassment, deception, and other unfair practices during the debt collection process. The statute of limitations for credit card and medical debt is three years in Alabama.

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Your Guide to South Carolina’s Debt Collection Laws

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated December 12, 2023

South Carolinians are protected by the state’s Consumer Protection Code, whose rules apply to both original creditors and third-party debt collection agencies. The CPC prohibits debt collectors from harassing you, deceiving you, or engaging in unfair practices when trying to collect on a debt from you. It also gives consumers the right to sue anyone who violates this law for damages or an injunction to stop or reverse the collection activity. The statute of limitations for credit card debt is three years in South Carolina.

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How To Answer an Oregon Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated December 15, 2023

If you’re sued for a debt in Oregon, you’ll receive an official notice from the court. If you’re sued in small claims court, you need to respond to the notice and tell the court if you want a hearing or jury trial. If you’re sued in regular circuit court, you need to respond with an answer form that includes any affirmative defenses you may have. After responding in either situation, you must show up to required court appearances, which could be a hearing, mediation, or arbitration, depending on your case.

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How To Respond to a Missouri Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated January 22, 2024

If you get a summons and petition informing you that you’ve been sued for a debt in Missouri, you need to respond by following the court instructions on the summons form. This often means: 1. Drafting an answer form. 2. Addressing each of the debt collector’s claims against you. 3. Listing your defenses and affirmative defenses. 4. Filing your answer form with the court and serving a copy on the person suing you. You have 30 days to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in Missouri, but if your hearing date is before 30 days from the date on the summons, you might need to respond before your hearing date.

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Your Guide to Missouri’s Debt Collection Laws

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated December 16, 2023

Missouri residents are best protected against debt collector misconduct by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The FDCPA protects consumers against debt collector harassment, deception, and other unfair practices. In Missouri, the statute of limitations for open accounts — which often includes credit card debt — is five years. The statute of limitations for debts backed by written contracts is 10 years. This often includes medical bills.

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Your Guide to Kentucky’s Debt Collection Laws

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated December 16, 2023

If you live in Kentucky, your main line of defense against debt collectors will be the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). This federal law regulates third-party debt collectors and aims to prevent harassment, deception, and other unfair practices in the debt collection process. It also outlines certain things debt collectors are required to do, such as provide you with certain information about your debt.

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How To Answer an Arizona Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 10, 2024

Responding to a debt lawsuit in Arizona is easier than most people realize. You respond by filling out a court-provided answer form, filing it with the court, and delivering a copy to the person suing you. The answer form is your opportunity to admit, deny, or say you don’t know about the claims against you. These claims are written out in the complaint form, which you’ll receive with a court summons that tells you you’re being sued and how long you have to respond to the case.

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How To Answer a Kentucky Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 10, 2024

If you are sued for debt in Kentucky, the best thing you can do is respond and take action! If you are sued through circuit court or district court (not small claims), you need to file an answer within 20 days of receiving your summons and complaint. If you are sued through the small claims division of the district court, you don’t have to file an answer but you can file a counterclaim. Local rules vary from county to county, so it’s always best to check with your court to verify the best way to proceed with your case.

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How To Answer an Illinois Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 3, 2024

If you’re sued in Illinois for debt collection, you must file an appearance if you’re sued for less than $10,000. To complete an appearance form, you will fill out your personal information, select which trial type you prefer (this is only a preference, not a guarantee), fill out the proof of delivery, e-file your forms with your court within 30 days (generally), then deliver a copy of the appearance on the plaintiff. A written answer is not required for debt collection lawsuits in small claims court cases in Illinois, but you can file one if you choose, though fees may apply. Filing an answer may help you prepare your defenses for trial and show the debt collector that you’re serious about asserting your rights. Procedures vary from county to county in Illinois, so it is always best to check with your court to verify what is required of you in a debt collection lawsuit.

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Your Guide to Washington’s Debt Collection Laws

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated January 3, 2024

Washington has two state debt collection laws: the Washington Collection Agency Act (CAA) and the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA). Combined, these two laws provide important protections for state residents against original creditors, third-party debt collectors, and debt buyers. Washington residents get further protection from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The statute of limitations for credit card debt and medical bills in Washington state is six years.

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Your Guide to Pennsylvania Debt Collection Laws

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 10, 2024

Pennsylvania has two state debt collection laws: the Pennsylvania Fair Credit Extension Uniformity Act (FCEUA) and the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL). Combined, these two laws provide important protections for state residents against both original creditors and third-party debt collectors. Pennsylvanians get further protections from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) offered to all states. The statute of limitations for all debt contracts (including credit cards and medical bills) in Pennsylvania is four years.

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How To Answer a Washington Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated January 22, 2024

If you’re sued for a debt in the state of Washington, it’s important to respond! And it might be easier than you think. Here are the basic steps: 1. Fill out an answer and appearance form. 2. Complete a certificate of service form. 3. File your forms with the court within 20 days of receiving the summons. 4. Deliver a copy of your answer form to the person suing you.

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How To Answer a South Carolina Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 22, 2024

If you’re sued for a debt in South Carolina, the most important thing you can do is respond! Here are the basic steps: 1. Fill out an answer form. 2. Note your defenses. 3. File your forms with the court within 30 days of receiving the summons. 4. Deliver a copy of your answer form to the person suing you.

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How To Answer an Oklahoma Debt Collection Court Summons

Written by Attorney Tina Tran
Updated January 10, 2024

If you’re sued for a debt in Oklahoma, the most important thing you can do is respond and take action. Your debt collection lawsuit will be heard in either a small claims court or district court. If your case is in district court, you need to fill out and file a written answer within 20 days of receiving your summons and complaint. If your case is in small claims court, you may not be able to file an answer form (depending on the court), but you must show up to your hearing with your prepared response and defenses.

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can't access their basic rights when they can't afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we're fighting this injustice.

To learn more, read why we started Upsolve in 2016, our reviews from past users, and our press coverage from places like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.