How to File Bankruptcy in Pennsylvania – Step 1

Introduction

This document explains the key elements of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, including the requirements of the bankruptcy laws enacted by the federal government in 2011. Even before declaring bankruptcy, there are several steps that must be taken. Some steps are optional, but others, such as credit counseling, are required

Likewise, after the Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition is filed, the debtor has several obligations to fulfill Attending the Section 341 meeting of creditors and a pre-discharge bankruptcy education course are two of those requirements After a person receives his or her discharge, the case may remain open for several months, and in some circumstances, even years, as the case trustee works to liquidate Chapter 7 bankruptcy assets and distribute payment to creditors Although the bankruptcy process is different from case to case, the purpose of this document is to explain the main events that will happen in a normal Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding

Pennsylvania bankruptcy courts are divided into three districts, which are further divided into several divisions.  Generally, the debtor’s county of residence will determine which district and division the bankruptcy petition is filed.  It may also be determined by the location of the debtors principal place of business or principal assets.

 

EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Counties of Jurisdiction: 

Philadelphia Division – Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties

Reading Division – Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties

DIVISION STREET ADDRESS MAILING ADDRESS TELEPHONE
Philadelphia
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Robert N.C. Nix Sr. Federal Building
900 Market Street,
Suite 400
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Same (215) 408-2800
Reading
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
The Madison Building
400 Washington Street
Suite 300
Reading, PA 1960
Same (610) 320-5255

 

WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Counties of Jurisdiction:

Pittsburgh Division – Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington and Westmoreland Counties

Erie Division – Clarion, Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, Jefferson, McKean, Mercer, Venango and Warren Counties

Johnstown Division – Bedford, Blaire, Cambria, Clearfield, Indiana and Somerset Counties

DIVISION STREET ADDRESS MAILING ADDRESS TELEPHONE
Pittsburgh
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
5414 U.S. Steel Tower
600 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Same (412) 644-2700
Erie
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
U.S. Courthouse
Room B160
17 South Park Row
Erie, PA 16501
Same (814) 464-9740
Johnstown
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Penn Traffic Building
Johnstown, PA 15901
Same (814) 533-4246

 

MIDDLE DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA

Counties of Jurisdiction:

Harrisburg Division – Adams, Centre, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Fulton, Huntingdon, Juniata, Lebanon, Mifflin, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Snyder, Union and York Counties

Wilkes-Barre Division – Bradford, Cameron, Carbon, Clinton, Columbia, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Lycoming, Monroe, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Wayne and Wyoming Counties

DIVISION STREET ADDRESS MAILING ADDRESS TELEPHONE
Harrisburg
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
Ronald Reagan Federal Building
228 Walnut Street
Room 320
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Same (717) 901-2800
Wilkes-Barre
Division
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
274 Max Rosenn U.S. Courthouse
197 South Main Street
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18701
Same (570) 826-6450

Chapter 7 has a lasting, long-term effect on a person’s creditworthiness It remains on a person’s credit record for up to ten years After a Chapter 7 petition is filed, a person’s credit score, commonly referred to as a FICO score, may initially drop as much as 2 points. Obtaining loans or other credit at reasonable rates will be very difficult, if not impossible. For these reasons alone, the following bankruptcy alternatives should be considered

Create a Budget

  • Creating a budget is a simple way to explore bankruptcy alternatives. A well-prepared budget can help point out unnecessary expenses. To create a budget, track every expense, no matter how minor, for one to two months. At the end of this time period, take some time to analyze the results.
  • If expenses are greater than income, identify expenses that can be eliminated or reduced. In addition, think of ways to bring in additional income, such as asking your current employer for a raise or taking on a second job.

Negotiate with Lenders        

  • If you are experiencing a temporary setback, such as a layoff or medical illness, and normally pay bills on time, negotiating with creditors is an effective bankruptcy alternative Many creditors are willing to lower monthly payments or extend payment time, as long as they are notified of the situation and reassured that you will be able to meet the terms of the new credit arrangement

Debt Consolidation

  • Although debt consolidation is another way to avoid bankruptcy, it should be carefully considered. When debt is consolidated, credit card balances and other loans are combined into one bill. Many times the creditor will require the person receiving a consolidated loan to use his or her house or other assets as collateral. This may jeopardize your ability to keep your house or other assets if a bankruptcy petition is filed at a later date.

Credit Counseling

  • Reputable creditor counseling organizations offer free money management advice and budgeting assistance. After reviewing your situation, a good credit counselor can provide specific bankruptcy alternatives for your individual situation. Although credit counseling can be provided online or by phone, the best type of credit counseling is in person.

 

_______________________________________________________________
While the information presented is accurate as of the date of publication, it should not be cited or relied upon as legal authority. It should not be used as a substitute for reference to the United States Bankruptcy Code (title 11, United States Code) and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure, both of which may be reviewed at local law libraries, or to local rules of practice adopted by each bankruptcy court. Finally, this publication should not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.

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