North Dakota Bankruptcy

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Summary

In order to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota for free, your household income has to be less than a certain amount. If so, and the court finds that you can't afford to pay the court fee even after filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, your application for a fee waiver will be granted, thereby allowing you to file your case for free.

Even though you may not face the kind of debts that Ron McMartin faced when he filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota, the amount of debt you have only really matters to the extent that it impacts your ability to pay it off. Mr. McMartin, whose farm filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota in February 2017, filed a personal Chapter 7 case later in the same year. At the time, he listed a monthly income of just under $5,000 with monthly expenses in excess of $25,000. Just a year earlier, his annual income was nearly $400,000, or an average of $33,000 per month. Nevertheless, life happened, business slowed down, and his creditors started calling in the personal guarantees he signed when his farm could no longer keep up the payments. The McMartin case is unique in that most people who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota are regular folks who got in over their head, often due to no fault of their own. A lot of people who struggle with making their minimum payments every month don't realize that filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota will not leave them without anything to live on. Rather, the laws are designed to provide all honest but unfortunate debtors, regardless of how big or small their total, with a fresh start. Whether you owe more than $52 million, like Mr. McMartin, or less than $15,000, if you are constantly having to decide whether to pay your credit card bill or buy groceries, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota may be the most responsible thing you can do for your family and your creditors.

How to File Bankruptcy in North Dakota for Free

In order to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota for free, your household income has to be less than a certain amount. If so, and the court finds that you can't afford to pay the court fee even after filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, your application for a fee waiver will be granted, thereby allowing you to file your case for free.


Collect Your North Dakota Bankruptcy Documents

The bankruptcy forms ask for a lot of specific and detailed information, and it is your duty to fully disclose all of the requested information, without leaving anything out. Your North Dakota bankruptcy documents are a number of different documents that you will need when completing your bankruptcy forms because they contain some of the details and information you will need. The first item you should collect as you are preparing to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is all the paycheck stubs you have received in the last 6 months. If you are paid via direct deposit, your paycheck stubs should be in your email inbox; if not, visit your payroll department to request copies of them. You should also request a copy of your credit report from all three of the credit reporting agencies as that will help you ensure all of your creditors' addresses are up to date, and may remind you of some old debt that you haven't thought about in a good long while that you otherwise might have left off your bankruptcy forms. Finally, everyone filing bankruptcy in North Dakota will need their most recent federal income tax return as that has to be provided to the trustee assigned to your case after it has been filed with the court.

Take Credit Counseling

The credit counseling class is a requirement that everyone planning on filing bankruptcy in North Dakota has to complete. Without it, you are not eligible to file a bankruptcy case. The class has to be taken in the 6 months before your North Dakota bankruptcy is filed with the court. It takes about 1 - 2 hours to complete and you can take it either online or by phone. Unfortunately, the companies approved to offer this class to folks filing bankruptcy in North Dakota do not offer any in-person options. The purpose of the class is to ensure that folks who are struggling with debt are choosing the debt relief option most suited to their particular situation. When you have completed the class, you will receive a certificate of completion that is valid for 180 days. That certificate has to be filed with the court along with the rest of the documents needed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota as evidence that you complied with this requirement prior to filing your case.

Complete the Bankruptcy Forms

This is the part of the process when things get really technical. If you plan on completing the forms by yourself, without the assistance of a lawyer, the first thing you should review before getting started is this instruction manual. It explains all of the forms you will have to complete for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota. If you hire a lawyer, or are eligible to file using Upsolve, you won't have to deal with the bankruptcy forms directly; however, you will still need to provide all of the information requested in the North Dakota bankruptcy forms. This is because before filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, you are the one that has to sign everything under penalty of perjury. You can download all official bankruptcy forms as fillable PDF documents for free. Since there are number of forms needed when filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, make sure you check out this list of filing requirements for Chapter 7 cases provided by the court.

Get Your Filing Fee

Even though it may seem odd that folks having to file a bankruptcy case have to pay a fee to the court to do so, remember that not every case is the same. Some folks make a comparatively high income at the time of filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, it's just not enough to keep up with all of their minimum payments. The court filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is $335. Folks earning less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines are able to apply to have their fee waived, but such a waiver will only be granted if it is clear that they cannot afford to pay the fee even after the case has been filed and the automatic stay taken effect. Since not everyone filing bankruptcy in North Dakota will qualify for a waiver, the court also allows folks to pay the fee in installments after the case is filed. If you apply to pay the fee in installments, the first $100 payment is due to the North Dakota Bankruptcy Court at the time you are filing your case, or within 14 days thereafter. Since missing a payment can cause complications in your case, and even result in your case being thrown out of court, it is recommended to pay the full amount at the time your case is filed, if at all possible.

This is the final step once you are ready to go to court to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota as only lawyers are allowed to file documents via the court's electronic filing system. If you downloaded each individual document to your computer, you are well aware of how many different forms there are. Having completed the forms required for filing Chapter 7 in North Dakota, you're also aware of the fact that they all look very similar. In light of that, it's best to make the first thing on your printing agenda a list of the required documents. It doesn't matter whether you use the court's filing requirements page for this, or this checklist of required documents, as long as whatever you are using allows you to keep track of everything you are printing. Even though filing bankruptcy in North Dakota is a legal proceeding, all documents are printed on regular 8.5" x 11" paper that any home printer can handle. It is recommended that you take the time to print a second set of all of your forms, or make a copy after printing the first set, whichever is easier, so you have a complete copy of everything you are submitting to the court for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota for your own records.

Go to Court to File Your Forms

The North Dakota Bankruptcy Court is located in Fargo. Although filing bankruptcy in North Dakota can be done by mailing all of the required documents to the court, if at all possible, it is best to go there in person. This will give you the chance to fix anything that might need fixing right then and there, and when you are done and leave the court, you leave with the knowledge that you are now protected from your creditors. This is especially important if you are trying to file your North Dakota bankruptcy case before a creditor can do something, such as foreclose on your home or start garnishing your wages. You can pay the court filing fee while there in the form of either cash, a cashier's check, or a money order made payable to "Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court." The court is open to the public from 8:00 am to 4:30 PM but you should not wait until the very end of the day to visit the court, as you want to make sure there is enough time to process everything. If you remember to bring your own copy of the forms when you head to the courthouse for the purpose of filing Chapter 7 in North Dakota, the clerk's office will be able to endorse, or stamp it with all the pertinent case information for you.

Mail Documents to Your Trustee

One of the things that happens after you are done filing the documents for your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota, is the assignment of a trustee to handle your case. The trustee's job is to administer your case, which basically means making sure you are doing everything you are supposed to be doing and, if there are any assets that are not protected by an exemption, sell them for the benefit of your creditors. One of the documents everyone filing bankruptcy in North Dakota has to provide to the trustee is a copy of their most recent income tax return. This has to be mailed to the trustee's office more than 7 days before your 341 meeting. In addition, the particular trustee assigned to your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota may send you a letter requesting some other information or documents from you. Since it is your duty to cooperate with the trustee in the administration of your North Dakota bankruptcy case, it's important to keep an eye out for any such request and follow the instructions provided in the letter.

Take Bankruptcy Course 2

Everyone filing bankruptcy in North Dakota has to take not one but two bankruptcy classes. The first one has to be completed in the 6 months before your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is filed with the court. Bankruptcy course 2 can only be taken after your case has been filed. There is no hard deadline to take the course, but it has to be done before your discharge can be entered which happens as early as 60 days after the date first set for your 341 meeting. If you don't take this course, which not focuses on financial management and debtor education you are not eligible to have your discharge entered. As with the class you took before filing bankruptcy in North Dakota, this one must be taken from a company approved by the Office of the United States Trustee. After you are done with the course, make sure to ask whether the course provider will file a certificate with the court on your behalf. If not, it's important to mail a completed and signed copy of this certification confirming that you completed this requirement to the court so it can be added to your case documents.

Attend Your 341 Meeting

The 341 meeting gets its name from the section of the Bankruptcy Code that mandates it. It is also known as the "creditors' meeting" or the "meeting of creditors" and is the one time everyone filing bankruptcy in North Dakota has to appear in person. Although it is called a creditors' meeting, it is rare to see creditors attend or participate in any way. They are notified of the date and time of your 341 meeting after your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota has been filed when they receive a notice like this one from the court. The person you will be meeting with is the trustee handling your case. They are required to verify your identity before they can conduct the meeting, so make sure to bring a government issued picture ID and acceptable proof of your social security number. Once that hurdle is out of the way, the trustee will put you under oath and ask you some of the questions they ask everyone filing Chapter 7 in North Dakota. The questions generally revolve around the information contained in your bankruptcy forms, so as long as you prepare just a little bit and review everything you filed with the court, you should not have any problems answering the questions. Just remember to take a deep breath and tell the truth; that is the easiest thing to remember anyway.

Dealing with Your Car

Many people hold off on filing bankruptcy in North Dakota because they are worried about what will happen to their car if they do. What they don't realize is that filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota actually gives them more options on how to handle their car loan. If you are perfectly happy with everything as is, and you don't anticipate any issues paying the balance of the loan according to its terms, you can keep everything basically the same by entering into a reaffirmation agreement. While a lot of people choose this option, make sure you carefully review your budget before doing so, as the agreement has the effect of pulling the loan out of the pool of debts to be discharged in your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota. Of course, another option is to surrender the vehicle to the creditor. While this won't get you out of a loan outside the context of a bankruptcy proceeding, the discharge you will receive as part of your North Dakota bankruptcy will relieve you from having to pay the balance still owing after the car has been sold at auction.

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North Dakota Bankruptcy Means Test

Not everyone who wants to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is able to do so. If your income exceeds the applicable income limits because you make more than the median household income for a household of your size, you must pass part two of the North Dakota means test for bankruptcy by showing that you do not have the disposable income to pay even a portion of your debts as part of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. The North Dakota means test for bankruptcy is designed to ensure that only folks who really need the relief available under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota.

Data on Median income levels for North Dakota

North Dakota Median Income Standards for Means Test for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2019
Household SizeMonthly IncomeAnnual Income
1$4,363.08$52,357.00
2$6,621.58$79,459.00
3$7,188.42$86,261.00
4$8,129.92$97,559.00
5$8,879.92$106,559.00
6$9,629.92$115,559.00
7$10,379.92$124,559.00
8$11,129.92$133,559.00
9$11,879.92$142,559.00
10$12,629.92$151,559.00

Data on Poverty levels for North Dakota

North Dakota Fee Waiver Eligibility for Cases Filed On or After May 1, 2019
Eligible for fee waiver when under 150% the poverty level.
Household SizeState Poverty LevelFee Waiver Limit (150% PL)
1$1,040.83$1,561.25
2$1,409.17$2,113.75
3$1,777.50$2,666.25
4$2,145.83$3,218.75
5$2,514.17$3,771.25
6$2,882.50$4,323.75
7$3,250.83$4,876.25
8$3,619.17$5,428.75
9$3,987.50$5,981.25
10$4,355.83$6,533.75
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North Dakota Bankruptcy Forms

Everyone who files a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota has to use the official North Dakota Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms. They are a combination of the national forms that are the same across the country, and some local forms created specifically for use in only the North Dakota bankruptcy district. The only local form you will need when you first file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is the Statement Concerning Payment Advices. All other local North Dakota bankruptcy forms are used later in the case, or in cases under a different chapter of the Bankruptcy Code.

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District of North Dakota Requirements

The District of North Dakota handles all North Dakota bankruptcy matters, regardless of your place of residence. The court requires a specific format in which to submit your creditors' addresses to the court upon filing your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota. Another requirement for folks filing without a lawyer ("pro se") is the inclusion of a daytime phone number underneath their signature on the Voluntary Petition that is filed with the court.

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North Dakota Bankruptcy Exemptions

Everything you own when your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota is filed with the court is considered an asset and the applicable exemptions determine which assets, if any, can be sold for the benefit of your creditors. Residents of North Dakota are limited to the North Dakota bankruptcy exemptions and are not allowed to use the federal bankruptcy exemptions. If you have a qualifying retirement account, you may, however, be able to use certain federal nonbankruptcy exemptions to protect the account.

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North Dakota Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost

While you do not have to hire a lawyer to help you with your North Dakota bankruptcy case, it can be a good investment that saves you money down the line. If you are worried about losing any assets, then make sure to balance the value of these assets with the average cost of a bankruptcy lawyer before deciding whether it is a good idea to move forward with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota without a lawyer.

  • Attorney cost estimate: $1,100 – $1,200

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If you are not able to file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy in North Dakota through Upsolve but can't afford a lawyer to help you, one of the organizations providing legal aid in North Dakota may be able to assist you. The State Bar Association of North Dakota, which governs lawyers admitted to practice in the state, has some self-help resources available. However, if you are looking to have a lawyer help you with your North Dakota bankruptcy for free ("pro bono") your best bet will be to contact one of the organizations created specifically for the purpose of providing free legal aid in North Dakota.

Legal Services of North Dakota
(701) 222-2110
418 E Broadway #7, Bismarck, ND 58502-1893

Upsolve
Nationwide Service (NYC Office)

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North Dakota Court Locations

Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
701-297-7100
655 First Avenue North Fargo, ND 58102

Quentin N. Burdick United States Courthouse
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North Dakota Judges

North Dakota Bankruptcy Judges
DistrictJudge Name
District of North DakotaHon. Shon Hastings
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North Dakota Trustees

North Dakota Trustees
TrusteeContact Info
Gene W. Doeling
(701) 232-8757
Kip M. Kaler
(701)232-8757
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