Not a member yet? Register now and get started.

lock and key

Sign in to your account.

Account Login

Forgot your password?

Washington Bankruptcy Court

What to expect in court. Most likely, the only hearing you will have to attend in your Washington bankruptcy is called a “meeting of creditors”. This meeting is fairly informal – it is not conducted before a judge but a trustee, who is usually a lawyer who has Washington bankruptcy experience. Trustees work for the federal Departments of Justice’s Office of the United State Trustee and are party in your Washington bankruptcy case, along with you and your creditors. In a Chapter 7, the trustee is mainly looking for property that can be used to pay part of your debt. In a Chapter 13, the trustee takes monthly payments from you and divides it up among your creditors according to the repayment plan. At a Chapter 13 meeting of creditors, the trustee goes over your plan and makes recommendations for changes to the plan, if necessary.

The meeting of creditors is informal, but it is a federal court proceeding and your testimony is recorded and under oath. Creditors do not usually show up. You should have an attorney at the meeting with you. Before the meeting, you have to send pay stubs, bank statements and tax returns to the trustee so the trustee can compare your Washington bankruptcy forms with some of your original financial documents. Many other people will have meetings at the same time and most of the time you spend at the hearing will just be waiting for your case. The actual hearing takes only about 10 minutes. Sometimes the trustee will want some additional documentation or amendments to be made in your case. Your attorney should help you with that.

Though the most contact you have with the Washington bankruptcy court system will be with your trustee (other than talking to your attorney of course), the final decisions are made by Washington bankruptcy judges. It is rare that you have to attend a hearing before a Washington bankruptcy judge. Most of the work involved in your case will be dealing with requests made by the trustee or creditors. However, if your attorney is unable to work out an acceptable deal with the trustee or creditors, your attorney may have to argue the issue in front of a Washington bankruptcy judge. You may or may not want to attend that hearing – often it is not necessary.

There are other hearings in Washington bankruptcy – sometimes debtors must attend 2004 exams, which are like depositions. Sometimes a lawsuit called an “adversary proceeding” is filed along with your Washington bankruptcy. Some issues, such as whether a debt was taken out fraudulently, whether you can remove a second mortgage from your house or whether you can discharge a student loan, depend gathering a lot of facts and going through a trial. These trials are decided by a Washington bankruptcy judge. Of course, a trial involves a long and potentially expensive court hearing, but they are very rare in Washington bankruptcy.

In most Washington bankruptcy cases, debtors do not have to spend much time in court at all. However, because a lot is at stake at your hearing, you should have an attorney with you in case any issues arise. Because the new Washington bankruptcy laws require providing documentation in advance of your hearing, and the documents must be in a particular order, it is a good idea to hire an attorney even if your case seems fairly simple. Our Washington bankruptcy attorneys have years of experience dealing with the post 2005 issues involved in these hearings and can guide you through your court date skillfully, reducing risk and stress for you.