Before You File for Bankruptcy

Debtors are strongly encouraged to obtain the services of competent legal counsel. Even if you cannot afford to pay an attorney, you may qualify for free legal services. For information about free (also known as "pro bono") legal services in New Jersey click here. You may also contact your state or local bar association for assistance in hiring an attorney.

The staff at the Bankruptcy Court is not permitted to give you legal advice. If you have questions you may find the information you need by reviewing the links we have provided on this page.

Before you file for bankruptcy, you must do several things:
  • Find out which chapter of the Bankruptcy Code you are eligible for.
  • Receive credit counseling from an approved provider within 180 days before you file. If you and your spouse are filing together, both of you must obtain credit counseling. Failure to do so may result in dismissal of the case. You may have the credit counseling one-on-one or in a group, by telephone or by internet. After you finish the counseling, you will receive a certificate that you must file with the Court. For a list of approved providers click here.

For additional information regarding the conventional filing of a bankruptcy case without an attorney, you may refer to the additional resources provided on the Court's Website, including Official and Local Forms.