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The information provided here is intended to answer frequently asked general, procedural, and technical questions and is not be interpreted as legal advice or to serve as a guide to what is required to be filed, provided, or completed in a bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding. This information is subject to change without notice.
Where can I find the forms to file bankruptcy?
Use the Forms link to download and print national and local bankruptcy forms. Be advised that the Clerk's Office is not permitted to assist you with the completion of forms and may not provide legal advice. Visit Filing Requirements, and Requirements Before Filing for more information and/or consult the instructions provided with each national bankruptcy form.
How do I contact the Help Desk or the Clerk's Office if I have a question?
Visit the Contact Us page.
What is CM/ECF?
CM/ECF stands for Case Management/Electronic Case Filing. CM/ECF is software that is accessed using standard computer hardware, an internet connection, and browser. The system accepts documents in Portable Document Format (.pdf) and allows registered users to electronically file and/or access documents 24 hours a day, seven days a week via the internet. Additionally, filers and other parties* in the case receive an automatically-generated notice verifying court receipt of filings. (*Only those parties who are CM/ECF users will receive electronic notification). NOTE: CM/ECF is tested for compatibility with Internet Explorer, Firefox/Mozilla, and Safari browsers. CM/ECF is not compatible with the Chrome browser and has not been tested with the Edge browser.
How do I digitally or electronically sign my documents?
Your unique login and password are used to validate the signature on your electronically filed documents. Pursuant to the Administrative Procedures for Electronic Filing attached to Standing Order #11, the PDF document must contain either a scanned image of any original signature(s) or the text "/s/ user name" where an original signature should occur. All electronically filed documents must contain a signature block in compliance with FRBP 9011(a) and other applicable rules.
How do I amend schedules and do I need to file another declaration page?
Amendments to schedules are governed by FRBP 1008 and 1009 and Local Rule 1009-1(A). Amended schedules must be filed in their entirety. Any changes, additions, or deletions must be clearly indicated. Changes to add, remove, or reclassify a creditor require payment of a filing fee, and changes to add creditors or modify existing creditors must also be accompanied by a supplemental mailing matrix containing only the name(s) and address(es) of the creditor(s) to be added or changed. See Instructional Document Inst-1 on the Forms page of this website for guidance. Local Forms LF-36-M Matrix/List of Creditors and LF-36 Verification of Creditor Mailing Matrix may be used with the official schedule(s) form(s) being amended.
Can I file a sealed case or document electronically?
No. Prior to filing a sealed case or a sealed document in a public case, a motion requesting authorization to file under seal must be filed and granted by court order after which sealed documents must be delivered to the court in paper form. The court will file the document in CM/ECF and set the appropriate access restrictions so that the document may not be viewed by anyone other than the judge assigned to the case and persons specifically granted access by the judge, if applicable.
The window to pay my filing fees did not appear when I finished filing my document. How do I pay my fees?
First, be certain that all pop-up blockers are turned off on your computer. If you have multiple toolbars installed (Internet Explorer, Google, AOL, Yahoo, Firefox, or others), you will need to ensure that the pop-up blocker on each one of them is turned off. Then login to CM/ECF and access "Internet Payments Due" through the Utilities menu.
What should I do if I am unable to locate a filing event that fits the document I need to file?
Use the Search feature in the blue menu bar at the top of your CM/ECF screen. This keyword search will locate all filing events containing the word (e.g., reaffirmation) or partial word (e.g., reaff.) that you enter. We have many docketing events to choose from and hope you can locate an event for any document you are attempting to file. However, occasionally, we will create new events due to new requirements and changing laws. Contact the Help Desk to request assistance if you are unable to locate a filing event that fits your needs.
How do I check the status of a proposed order?
Call the Clerk's office and ask to speak to the Case Administrator to whom the case is assigned. The Case Administrator's name appears in the upper right section of the docket report. In the alternative, call the Clerk’s Office and provide the case number to the person who answers the telephone. Your call will be transferred to your assigned Case Administrator. The Case Administrator cannot tell you when an order will be signed; they can only advise you of whether or not it has been submitted to chambers for review.
How do I obtain a creditor's preferred address as registered with the National Creditor Register Service?
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) of 2005 established the National Creditor Register Service (NCRS) which allows creditors to register a "preferred" address for receiving mail from the Courts. When a mailing matrix is requested from CM/ECF, the addresses listed are the "preferred" addresses provided to the NCRS by these creditors. Unfortunately, the "preferred" address is not available by any other means.
How do I add a creditor to a case in order to file a claim?
Debtor or Debtor's Attorney: The addition, removal, or reclassification of a creditor requires an amendment to the schedules and/or mailing matrix. See Fed. R. Bankr. P. 1009, N.D. Fla. LBR 1009-1, and the Bankruptcy Court Miscellaneous Fee Schedule (28 U.S.C. Sect. 1930) for more information.
Creditor: Docket a paperless event located in the Bankruptcy menu of CM/ECF under the "Claim and Creditor Activity" category: Add Creditor(s) > Enter Individual Creditor(s) (Paperless). You will be prompted to type in the name of the creditor for the docket text and, on the next screen, the name and address of the creditor for noticing and/or claims payment purposes. After you have added the creditor, you may proceed to file a claim.
How do I correct a Submission Error that I received on a pleading I filed?
Not all Submission Error Notifications (SEN) require a document or pleading to be re-filed correctly or withdrawn. The docket text of the SEN will note what action needs to be taken. If you are unsure how to correct a problem, call the Case Administrator who made the entry. The Case Administrator’s name will appear in parenthesis at the end of the docket entry. In the alternative, send an email to the Help Desk or call the Clerk’s Office main number (visit Contact Us for more information). Someone will be able to explain exactly what was procedurally incorrect about your filing so that you may correct the problem.
I'm logged into CM/ECF but my only options are Query, Reports, Utilities and Logout. Where are the Bankruptcy and Adversary options?
You are logged into PACER. PACER will only allow you to query and view cases or print documents. CM/ECF and PACER screens are almost identical. If you are logged into PACER, then an icon located at the upper right corner of the screen will say “PACER.” If you are logged in with your Florida Northern Bankruptcy Court CM/ECF user name and password, then that icon will reflect your user type, e.g., Attorney, trustee, etc.
Users often enter the wrong login and password or a user’s computer may be set to automatically log into PACER. To access CM/ECF in this situation, logout of the system, clear your cache, and login into the system again using your CM/ECF login credentials.
I accidentally filed my Proof of Claim twice. How can I delete the second one?
We cannot delete documents once they are filed. You can withdrawal the claim indicating that you filed it multiple times in error and wish to withdraw the duplicate(s).
How do I change the name of my firm, my mailing address and/or my login or password?
You must make all user account changes through the "Maintain My ECF Account" in the CM/ECF Utilities menu.
How do I amend a previously filed document?
We have specific "amended" events for several different types of pleadings. Please be certain that you use the correct filing event in order to keep fees, deadlines and/or hearings proceeding as they should. To locate an "amended" event in CM/ECF, use the keyword Search option located in the blue menu bar at the top of your screen. A search for "compensation," for instance, will provide you with the options for the following events:
- Application for Compensation - Amended
- Application for Compensation 1000 Dollars or Less (Negative Notice)
- Application for Compensation over 1000 Dollars (Hearing Required - No Neg Ntc)
- Application for Compensation re MMM
You may search the word "amended" but the list of available filing events will be much longer. If a specific "amended" event does not exist for your document, you may use the "Amended Motion," "Amended Application," or "Amended Document" event. You must link your amended filing to the original filing on the docket. When in doubt, Contact Us.
What is the maximum file size for .pdf documents filed in ECF? Is it is the same for the main document and attachments?
Each uploaded PDF file may be no larger than 5Mb. This cap applies to main documents and attachments. If your document is larger than 5Mb, we suggest breaking it down into several PDFs and attaching each one to the docketing event. Attempting to upload an individual PDF file larger than 5Mb will result in the system "timing out" which will require you to start the event over again from the beginning.
Am I required to have an attorney to file bankruptcy?
Entities (non-individual debtors) such as corporations or other business debtors may not file bankruptcy without legal counsel. Individual (or married couple) debtors have the right to represent themselves. Debtors are strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel because bankruptcy law can be very confusing. As a self-represented debtor, you will be expected to follow the same rules and procedures as an attorney. Failure to do so could result in dismissal of the case or other sanctions. Self-represented debtors will not be able to obtain legal advice from the trustee appointed to their case or court personnel. For more information, visit the Filing Without An Attorney page of our website.
Can employees of the Clerk's Office help me fill out my bankruptcy forms?
No. 28 U.S.C. § 955 prohibits Clerk's Office staff from giving legal advice or assisting with the preparation of forms.
I’m a debtor, and I do not have pay stubs since I have been unemployed for over 60 days. Do I have to file something else instead?
In this instance, you may use Local Form 16, Statement of No Employment Income, to advise the court of your lack of employment. Visit the Forms page.
Can I pay my filing fees by check or credit card?
We accept only money orders and cashier checks from self-represented persons who are filing bankruptcy or who have a pending bankruptcy case.
We accept money orders, cashier's checks, and checks (see restrictions) from persons or entities who are not debtors in a pending bankruptcy case. Checks will be accepted on a very limited basis: from an attorney’s trust or operating account (unless the maker is a debtor in a bankruptcy case), an account of the trustee appointed to the case, or any United States, state or local government.
When filing a claim, how do I know if a debt is secured, unsecured, priority or administrative?
The Clerk’s Office cannot provide legal advice. The Proof of Claim form available at http://www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms/proof-claim-0 contains detailed instructions and definitions of terms that you will need to know to complete your Proof of Claim. Please review these instructions carefully.
Can the Clerk's Office recommend or suggest a bankruptcy attorney or law firm?
No. We suggest that you contact the Florida Bar for a list of bankruptcy attorneys or consult your local phone book. For pro bono assistance, search the Bankruptcy Pro bono Resource Locator for an attorney in your area who may represent you free of charge (i.e., pro bono). The Northern District of Florida Bankruptcy Bar Association (NDFLBBA) also offers a Pro Bono Assistance Program. Visit their website to complete a contact form or call 866-944-6421.
Who will have access to my bankruptcy files?
What is a discharge?
The discharge releases the debtor from personal liability for the discharged debts. You should be aware that not all debts are dischargeable. Bankruptcy law regarding the scope of a discharge is complex. Debtors should consult legal counsel prior to filing
What debts are not dischargeable?
Debts listed in 11 U.S.C. § 523 are not dischargeable, including, but not limited to:
- most taxes
- domestic support obligations
- most student loans
- most fines, penalties, forfeitures or criminal restitution obligations
- debts for personal injuries or death caused operating a vehicle while intoxicated
- debts which were not properly listed by the debtor
- debts which the bankruptcy court specifically decides are not discharged
- debts which the debtor has given up the discharge protections by signing a reaffirmation agreement
- debts for certain types of loans owed to pension, profit sharing, stock bonus, or retirement plans
There are exceptions to these general rules, however, and you may want to consult an attorney to determine the exact effect of the discharge in any case.
How can I find out information about a bankruptcy case?
The Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) is an automated system which provides basic bankruptcy case information such as the case number, debtor name, last four digits of the debtor's Social Security Number, chapter, date the case was filed, debtor's attorney, trustee assigned to the case, judge assigned to the case, case status, date of discharge or dismissal, and date case was closed. McVCIS is available toll free at 1-866-222-8029. The code for the Northern District of Florida is eleven (11). You may also obtain case information from PACER (www.pacer.uscourts.gov) after registering. Note that there is a charge to use PACER. More information is provided on their website.
How do I have my password reset if I have forgotten it?
Contact CMECF_Helpdesk@flnb.uscourts.gov if you are a current ECF account holder and have forgotten your password. Note that this will not reset your password in any other court, including the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Middle or Southern Districts of Florida, even if you have previously requested a uniform login with the courts. Nor will it reset your Central Sign On password for NextGen courts.
What do I do if I file a case in error or file a case twice by mistake?
Immediately notify the Clerk’s Office of the error. Contact the Clerk's Office at 850-521-5001 or 866-639-4615 to obtain the fax number so that you can fax us a letter stating that the case was filed in error and requesting that it be closed.
How do I cancel an online payment that should not have been made?
You cannot cancel a payment once it has been made. Instead, you can file a motion requesting a refund.
My Pay.gov online payment won't go through.
- Confirm that you have entered the correct information into Pay.gov (via the payment window)
- Confirm that your credit card has not expired
- Confirm that you have authorized the charge. (There is a small checkbox that is part of the payment process. If you do not have the payment window expanded to full-screen, you may not see this checkbox.)
Can I get CM/ECF training for me and my staff? Is there a charge?
We offer online training for attorneys, creditors and support staff free of charge. Please complete the online training request form on our website. The link “Request ECF Training” appears under the "Online Filing" tab on this website. In the alternative, call or email the CM/ECF Help Desk (CMECF_HelpDesk@flnb.uscourts.gov or 866-639-4615) for more information.
What kinds of questions can the Clerk's Office help me with if I call the Help Desk?
We will be happy to help you with questions you may have about processes and procedures in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Florida.
The staff in our office are not permitted by law to provide legal advice including, but not limited to, how to complete forms, which forms need to be filed, how to create documents that do not use a pre-defined form (e.g., motions, responses, etc.), or how you should respond to something that has been filed.
We cannot assist you with processes or procedures for other districts as we are not familiar with their local requirements. Instead, we suggest that you visit their websites to obtain more information.
Additionally, we cannot provide technical assistance for bankruptcy petition preparation software packages. Neither are we permitted to make recommendations as to preference of one software package over another.
In what format am I to submit proposed orders?
Proposed orders are to be submitted in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text (.rtf) format and will not be accepted in PDF format. Please see the court's proposed order guidelines and Local Rule 9072-1 for specific information on formatting your proposed order.
How do I submit a proposed order?
Proposed orders are submitted electronically through the "Submit Proposed Orders" link in either the Bankruptcy or Adversary menus in CM/ECF. This process will generate a "pop-up window" so please ensure that your pop-up blockers are turned off before beginning. Proposed orders must be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) or Rich Text (.rtf) format. Attachments to the proposed order may be submitted in .pdf format. If the window in which to submit your proposed order does not appear after clicking the link, turn off your pop up blockers.
I am unable to file a Request for Hearing Cancellation because all I see is a blank field when I get to that screen.
Press and hold the Ctrl key and then roll your mouse wheel forward or backwards to make your text larger or smaller until you see the Request event in the "Available Events" box. If you do not have a wheel on your mouse, you may use the Ctrl key and the plus (+) or minus (-) keys to make your text larger or smaller.
What is the difference between a Request for Notice and a Notice of Appearance, and what event should I use for each?
Anyone may request to receive notices in a specific bankruptcy case or adversary proceeding by filing a "Request for Notices (No Attorney Appearance)." Attorneys wishing to file documents in a case (other than a proof of claim) or to notify the court of representation of a party in a case should file a "Notice of Appearance (Appearance of Attorney)." Attorneys appearing in Florida Northern Bankruptcy Court cases must be admitted to practices in the Northern District of Florida. Consult the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida’s website for attorney admission information.
When should I submit a proposed order?
For negative notice motions, you may submit your proposed order when you file the motion. It will be forwarded to chambers after the expiration of the negative notice deadline if no objection is filed. For filings that do not require a hearing or negative notice, the order should be submitted when the document has been filed. Otherwise, the proposed order is due within three (3) business days after a hearing has been held or after a deadline has expired. All proposed orders are to be submitted via the Submit Proposed Order link in CM/ECF and are not to be attached to or filed as a part of the pleading.
Where do I find information about participating in virtual hearings?
Consult Administrative Order 21-001 concerning hearings before Chief Judge Karen K. Specie. Telephone conference information for Judge Henry A. Callaway and Jerry C. Oldshue is located within the hearing notice.
I'm trying to submit a proposed order through the CM/ECF "Submit a Proposed Order" link, but it keeps taking me to a blank page.
Ensure that your pop-up blockers are turned off. If you have multiple toolbars installed on your browser, you will need to turn off the popup blockers for each of them.
How do I modify my CM/ECF user account to start receiving individual instead of summary Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF) emails?
To change your notification settings from "Daily Summary" to "Individual Emails," login to CM/ECF (not PACER) and access your ECF account (Utilities > Maintain My ECF Account). Select the "Email information" button and change your settings from "Send a Daily Summary Report" to "Send a notice for each filing." These radio button options are located toward the bottom of your screen. After changing your notification selection, select the "Return to Account screen" button and then the "Submit" button on the account screen. Failure to "Submit" your changes will result in them not being saved.
How long will it take before my creditors are notified that I have filed bankruptcy?
U.S. Mail takes approximately 7-10 days for delivery. However, some creditors are notified electronically and will receive notice much sooner.