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Maine Bankruptcy Records

What are Maine Bankruptcy Records?

Maine bankruptcy records are court documents that provide information on bankruptcy filings in the State of Maine. Bankruptcy records typically detail the finances and personal data of the petitioner. The records also include creditor information, such as names, addresses, and amounts owed. Bankruptcy cases in Maine are under federal jurisdiction, and proceedings occur in federal court. The United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Maine has jurisdiction over all state bankruptcy proceedings.

Like other states, Maine bankruptcy records are case files and court docket information retained by the courts where the cases were heard. The records are moved to the National Archives after a certain period, typically 2-3 years. Persons trying to retrieve bankruptcy records must have the correct information to facilitate the record search, whether from the court or the National Archives. Case files are identified by case numbers, petitioners' names, and filing dates.

Records for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Maine can also be accessed electronically through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER), the Bankruptcy Court Case Management/Electronic Case Filing (CM/ECF) system, or Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS). Some third-party websites also provide access to bankruptcy records.

What Do Maine Bankruptcy Records Contain?

A typical bankruptcy record from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine will detail the petitioner's information, including legal name, date of birth, sex, and current address. The records will also contain the petitioner's financial details, including incomes, expenses, assets, debts, and creditor information. Other information included in a bankruptcy record is the case number, date of filing, the judge assigned the cases, and the bankruptcy chapter filed.

Bankruptcy records will also state if the bankruptcy filing was voluntary or as a result of a court order or legal mandate (involuntary). Details on the bankruptcy trustee assigned to the cases, information about the 341 meetings, the status of the case, and disposition will be provided in the record as well.

Are Bankruptcy Records Public Information?

All bankruptcy records are public information available for viewing and copying by interested individuals. This is because bankruptcy cases, as federal court proceedings, are matters of public record and, therefore, available under the Freedom of Information Act. Individuals can search and retrieve Maine bankruptcy records online using PACER or visit the court clerk's office in Maine and search for the records via the public access terminals. The only bankruptcy records that are restricted from public access are records that a judge sealed at disposition.

Record seekers looking for an alternative to government sources may obtain bankruptcy records from third-party websites. These non-governmental websites often come with tools that help simplify the search for single or multiple records. However, record availability on third-party sites tends to vary because they’re independent of government sources. To obtain bankruptcy case information using third-party sites, record seekers may need to provide:

  • A complete name of the debtor involved in the record
  • A bankruptcy case number

How to Get Maine Bankruptcy Records?

Members of the public can get Maine bankruptcy records from any of the following sources:

PACER: The PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system facilitates public access to bankruptcy case information. PACER allows the public to access court documents electronically. Interested parties must register beforehand to use the service. Note that there are fees payable to obtain records from PACER.

MCVCIS: Multi-Court Voice Case Information System provides access to search and retrieve case information using a touch-tone telephone. Individuals can dial into the court's database anytime to obtain information about bankruptcy cases for free. The information available includes debtor names, case numbers, presiding judges, filing dates, filing chapters, asset/no asset designations, attorneys, trustees, and case status. To use the service, call (866) 222-8029 and follow the voice prompts to select Maine as the state where the bankruptcy was filed. Using the phone's touchpad:

  • Select 1 to hear instructions
  • Select 2 to search by case number
  • Select 3 to search by a petitioner's name
  • Select 4 to search by a social security number or tax I.D. number

The automated system will return all the available information on the desired bankruptcy case. A caller is allowed to search up to 5 cases per call.

Courthouse: Bankruptcy records can be obtained at the courthouse through public access terminals or the clerk's office. Interested persons can use the terminals to search and view Maine bankruptcy records. There is a fee of $0.10 per page for printing copies of bankruptcy records from these computers. The clerk's office also mails copies of bankruptcy records to persons who submit mail requests and pay the necessary fees. There is a $0.50 per page charge payable if the court staff photocopies the records. Certification of copies of bankruptcy records costs $11 for each record.

The bankruptcy courthouses can be found at the addresses below:

Portland
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
District of Maine
537 Congress Street, 2nd Floor
Portland, ME 04101
Phone: (207) 780-3482
Fax: (207) 780-3679

Bangor
U.S. Bankruptcy Court
District of Maine
MC Smith Federal Building
202 Harlow Street, 3rd Floor
Bangor, ME 04401
Phone: (207) 945-0348
Fax: (207) 945-0304

Archives: The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) maintains archived bankruptcy records for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of Maine. The requester can either order directly from the relevant Federal Resource Center (FRC) or order through the court to obtain these records. Court-ordered records are delivered to the clerk's office. Typically, a requester will be notified once the records arrive.

How Do I Find Out if My Bankruptcy Case is Closed in Maine?

There are a few ways to check if a bankruptcy case has been closed in Maine. These include:

  • Closing order notice: This is a formal notice informing a petitioner that the court has closed the bankruptcy case. It signifies that a judge has ascertained that the debtor has met all obligations in the bankruptcy proceedings. The notice can be sent to the petitioner or their attorney.
  • PACER: Registered users can verify the status of their bankruptcy cases by using PACER to retrieve the information.
  • MCVCIS: Individuals can call the voice case information system at _(866) 222-8029_to know the status of bankruptcy cases.
  • CM/ECF – Registered users can use the Case Management/Electronic Case Filing system of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Maine to view the status of a bankruptcy case.

Can a Bankruptcy Be Expunged in Maine?

The federal statute that regulates bankruptcy processes and procedures makes no provisions for the expungement or removal of records from the public record. Bankruptcy records cannot be expunged or restricted from public access. The only exception to this is if the records were sealed by court order.

Bankruptcy in Maine

Bankruptcy in Maine is a judicial process that allows debtors unable to meet up with their debt obligations to obtain a fresh financial start. This may be done either through the liquidation of the debtor’s assets to pay the creditors or drafting a repayment plan to allow the debtor to pay off the debts over a few years. The exact process and result of bankruptcy proceedings depend on the kind of bankruptcy the debtor files for. It is governed by the United States Bankruptcy Code and the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure. Federal laws provide for bankruptcy and only federal courts may determine bankruptcy proceedings. In Maine, the District of Maine Bankruptcy Courts determine proceedings concerning bankruptcy filings. The bankruptcy courts are units of the federal district court. A debtor that files for bankruptcy may prevent creditors from enforcing payment outside of the process determined by the court.

The results of bankruptcy filing depend on the type of bankruptcy the debtor files. Some bankruptcy cases involve liquidation of the debtor’s nonexempt assets to repay the creditors. Where this is the case, a majority of the debts are discharged and the creditors cannot attempt to collect the remainder of the debt after payment. In some other cases, a repayment plan is used to reschedule debts. Such bankruptcy cases allow the debtor to postpone the due date for payments and potentially reduce the total amount to be paid in debts. However, the debtor would need to show that they are eligible for bankruptcy.

Debtors who may file for bankruptcy include individuals, married couples, partnerships, and businesses. The court may also require the debtor to file other information, such as the debtor’s income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. The law requires individuals and married couples that file for bankruptcy to first go through credit counseling within six months before filing. The court may require the debtor to file any repayment plan drafted during the credit counseling. The court would consider several factors in determining if the debtor is eligible for bankruptcy. The court has a duty to ensure that only honest debtors may change their debt liabilities through bankruptcy proceedings. The court would consider the information filed by the debtor in determining if the debtor should be allowed to successfully file for bankruptcy. Essentially, the court would be reaching a decision as to whether the debtor can comply with their debt responsibilities if they are prevented from successfully filing for bankruptcy. The court may also change the kind of bankruptcy to a different one from the debtor’s choice.

A debtor in Maine who desires to go through bankruptcy proceedings may file at any of the following bankruptcy courts in the State.

Portland
US Bankruptcy Court
District of Maine
537 Congress Street, 2nd Floor
Portland, ME 04101

Bangor
US Bankruptcy Court
District of Maine
MC Smith Federal Building
202 Harlow Street, 3rd Floor
Bangor, ME 04401

What is the Downside of Filing for Bankruptcy in Maine?

A major downside of filing for bankruptcy in Maine is that the debtor may lose some of their assets. In some bankruptcy proceedings, assets not included in the exemption list are liquidated by the case trustee to pay the creditors to the extent that the proceeds can cover. In bankruptcy proceedings in which the assets are not liquidated, the debtor cannot use the assets in a manner outside of the repayment plan. The debtor submits a repayment plan to the court, the creditors vote on the repayment plan, and the court ultimately determines if the repayment plan should be enforced. The repayment plan becomes binding on the debtor and the debtor’s assets. Some other downsides of filing for bankruptcy in Maine include:

  • The debtor’s credit report may show the bankruptcy proceedings for up to ten years. This credit report shall be available to financial institutions such as institutions that provide credit and banks.
  • The debtor may experience a decline in their credit score. This could affect the debtor’s ability to secure loans to finance activities.
  • A debtor that is successful in filing for bankruptcy shall be prevented from filing for bankruptcy for a few years. Depending on the kind of bankruptcy the debtor initially filed for, the period may vary from seven to ten years.
  • A bankruptcy filing does not discharge all debts.

The downsides of bankruptcy are some reasons the debtor should consider before filing for bankruptcy. The debtor may be forced to live with these consequences. However, they should not always prevent the debtor from filing for bankruptcy, especially if this shall be better in the debtor’s situation. Some reasons a debtor should consider filing for bankruptcy despite the downsides include:

  • A bankruptcy filing can help a debtor improve their credit score in the long run. While a bankruptcy filing could reduce a debtor’s credit score, the credit score would fall anyway when the debtor constantly defaults on debt payments. Instead, a bankruptcy filing allows the debtor to rebuild their credit score.
  • Most debts are discharged or rescheduled through a successful bankruptcy filing.
  • A bankruptcy filing prevents creditors from attempting to collect debts through an automatic stay order. Creditors are prevented from engaging in all collection actions, including foreclosure, repossession, calling, sending messages, or legal action.
  • A debtor can use a bankruptcy filing to retain the property they may have otherwise lost.

What is Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Maine lets a debtor reorganize their business to pay debts over a period of three to five years. The debtor becomes a “debtor-in-possession”, acting as a trustee. The court does not appoint a case trustee in Chapter 11 bankruptcies. The debtor would need to file a repayment plan with the court. The debtor shall then contribute monthly payments in accordance with the repayment plan. In some cases, the repayment plan can provide for the eventual liquidation of the debtor’s assets after some time.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing can be voluntary or involuntary. A voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is filed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 301 by the debtor. An involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing is filed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 303 by creditors that satisfy the requirement. To file an involuntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy, up to three creditors should be acting jointly. The court may require the debtor filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy to provide the following:

  • A record of assets and liabilities owned by the debtor
  • A record of the debtor’s expenses and income
  • A record of unperformed contracts and unexpired leases the debtor is a party to
  • The debtor’s financial statement

A married couple may file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy jointly as provided by 11 U.S.C. § 302(a). However, the court may require the married couple to file some other documents. The same requirement may be included for individuals. These documents include:

  • A certificate showing that the debtor went through credit counseling within six months of filing for bankruptcy and any repayment plan developed for the debtor during the credit counseling.
  • Evidence of payment received from an employer within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy if such exists.
  • Any expected increase in the debtor’s expenses and income.
  • Any interest that the debtor has in a state or federal qualified education or tuition account

The court shall require the debtor to pay a $1,167 filing fee and a $571 miscellaneous administrative fee. The court may dismiss the case if the debtor fails to pay the fees.

Who Files for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Maine?

Either a debtor or up to three creditors acting jointly may file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Maine. The bankruptcy may be filed for individuals, married couples, partnerships, or corporations. The debtor shall also be required to file a plan for reorganization after filing for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. 11 U.S.C. § 1121(b) requires that the plan should be filed within 120 days of filing for bankruptcy if the debtor is not a small business. However, the court may discretionarily change the time period for filing the reorganization plan. However, 11 U.S.C. § 112(d) requires that the period should not exceed 18 months despite the extensions. If the debtor fails to file the reorganization plan within the time provided by the court, the creditors may file a competing reorganization plan.

Why File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Maine allows a debtor to postpone the due date for the payment of debts and potentially reduce the total amount to be paid. The court issues an automatic stay order that prevents the creditors from attempting to collect the debt outside the repayment plan. Where a business is likely to become profitable in the future, a Chapter 11 bankruptcy can allow the business to escape liquidation.

What is Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Maine is a form of bankruptcy that requires the liquidation of the debtor’s assets to pay off creditors. The debtor may retain assets included in the exemption list. However, other assets are sold by the case trustee at fair market value. Once this has been done, the remainder of the debts is discharged. The case trustee is appointed by the court and organizes a meeting between the debtor and the creditors. At the meeting, the case trustee shall place the debtor under oath and ask questions regarding the debtor’s finances. The creditors may also ask questions. The case trustee would report the details of the meeting to the court and whether the case trustee believes the filing is abusive. The debtor may be required to file:

  • A record of the debtor’s assets and liabilities
  • A record of the debtor’s expenses and income
  • A record of unperformed contracts and unexpired leases the debtor is a party to
  • The debtor’s financial statement

Debtors with majorly consumer debts may also be required to additionally file the following.

  • A certificate showing that the debtor went through credit counseling within six months of filing for bankruptcy and any repayment plan developed for the debtor during the credit counseling.
  • Evidence of payment received from an employer within 60 days of filing for bankruptcy if such exists.
  • Any expected increase in the debtor’s expenses and income.

Do I Qualify for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maine?

Maine allows Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings for individuals, married couples, partnerships, and corporations. Any individual filing for bankruptcy is required to have gone through credit counseling within six months of filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Additionally, no debtor can file for bankruptcy if they had a bankruptcy case dismissed within the preceding six months because they disobeyed a court order or willfully failed to appear before a court. Debtors with an income above Maine’s median income level may be subjected to the means test to ensure that the process is not being abused. The test considers the debtor’s ability to repay their debt obligations by considering the debtor’s income, expenses, liabilities, and assets.

Why File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A debtor can use a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Maine to get a fresh financial start. The debts are discharged if a debtor successfully goes through the process. While the debtor may lose some of their assets, they are allowed to keep some of their possessions, potentially including their home and car.

What is Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maine allows an individual to submit a repayment plan spanning three to five years which reschedules the due date for the individual’s debts. The total amount to be paid by a debtor filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy should not be less than what would have been paid under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The debtor shall be required to make monthly payments towards the debts under the repayment plan. Therefore, the debtor would need to have disposable income to commit to the plan. The court may require the debtor to file the following:

  • A record of assets and liabilities owned by the debtor
  • A record of the debtor’s expenses and income
  • A record of unperformed contracts and unexpired leases the debtor is a party to
  • The debtor’s financial statement

There is a $274 filing fee and a $75 administration fee for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. The fees should be paid upon filing for bankruptcy. However, with the court’s consent, the debtor may make the payments in up to four installments. The last installment should be paid within 120 days, except the court discretionarily increases the time period for the payment to 180 days. The court may dismiss a bankruptcy filing if the debtor refuses to pay.

Do I Qualify for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Maine?

Individuals with secured debts not exceeding $1,184,200 and unsecured debts not exceeding $394,725 can file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maine. Any individual filing for bankruptcy should have gone through credit counseling within six months of filing for bankruptcy. Also, no debtor can file for bankruptcy if they had a bankruptcy case dismissed within the preceding six months because they disobeyed a court order or willfully failed to appear before a court.

Why File for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Maine allows an individual to postpone debts and repay their debts over a period of three to five years. The repayment plan may also provide for reduced payments. A debtor may avoid foreclosure, repossession, and legal action to enforce debts by filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It allows a debtor to retain their assets while making monthly payments towards the repayment of their debts.

What is the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy in Maine?

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves repayment of the creditors through liquidation of the debtor’s nonexempt property, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires a reorganization plan that involves rescheduling and potentially reducing debts. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy usually takes only a few months, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may take between three to five years. Upon completion of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the remainder of the debts is discharged. The liquidation of the debtor’s assets to repay the debts shall be treated as full and final repayment of the debt. However, some debts cannot be discharged and shall still require the debtor to pay them. These include bankruptcy fees, some taxes, and penalty fees. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the debtor makes monthly payments towards the repayment plan. These payments shall be used to repay the creditors, and the process continues for three to five years until the plan is completed.

What is Bankruptcy Protection in Maine?

Bankruptcy protection in Maine is an automatic stay order issued by the court when a debtor files for bankruptcy to prevent creditors from engaging in collection actions. The court shall give notice of the order to all creditors listed by the debtor and at the address listed for each creditor by the debtor. Upon receiving the order, the creditors shall be unable to do anything to enforce repayment of the debt. This includes repossession, foreclosure, enforcing a court decision, legal action, phone calls, or even sending messages. The court may punish any failure to comply with the court order. Creditors that fail to comply with the order may be subjected to the following.

  • Court fees
  • Attorney fees
  • Fines and other penalties for contempt of the court
  • Damages awarded against the creditor in favor of the debtor

What are Maine Bankruptcy Exemptions?

Maine bankruptcy exemptions are assets that the bankruptcy laws allow debtors filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to retain. Federal laws on bankruptcy allow states to determine whether the federal exemptions should apply, whether state exemptions should apply, or whether the debtor should have a choice of either. However, debtors filing for bankruptcy in Maine are required to use the state exemptions. The exemptions include:

  • Homestead exemption. Maine allows persons filing for bankruptcy to retain $47,500 equity in their home. The equity allowed may increase to $95,000 if the debtor has a minor dependent living in the house, if the debtor or a dependent is up to 60 years old, or if the debtor or a dependent is a person with a mental or physical disability and unable to maintain gainful employment.
  • Motor vehicle exemption. The debtor may retain up to $7,500 worth of equity in one motor vehicle.
  • Personal property exemption. The debtor may retain clothing, furniture, appliances, and other similar items. However, no item should exceed $200. The debtor may retain jewelry up to $750 in total value. Professionally prescribed health aids are fully exempt. Up to $5,000 in tools of the trade can be kept. There are also exemptions for farm equipment, fishing boats, and cooking stoves and furnaces.
  • Insurance and damages exemption. Unmatured life insurance contracts and proceeds from the life insurance contract of someone the debtor was dependent upon are exempt. Crime victim’s reparation awards, awards for loss of future earnings, and awards for the wrongful death of someone the debtor was dependent upon are also exempt. Up to $12,500 is exempt in personal injury damages.
  • Public benefit and support exemption. Alimony and child support, social security benefits, disability assistance benefits, veteran’s assistance benefits, and unemployment compensations are exempt.
  • Retirement benefits are exempt.
  • Wildcard exemption. Maine allows a wildcard exemption of $400 that can be used to protect any property. Up to $6,000 of unused homestead exemption may also be used to retain animals, crops, musical instruments, books, clothing, furnishings, household goods, appliances, jewelry, tools of the trade, and personal injury recoveries.

What are the Other Types of Bankruptcy in Maine?

Maine allows a Chapter 12 bankruptcy for fishermen and farmers. This form of bankruptcy is simpler and streamlined to serve the purposes of farmers, fishermen, and businesses for farming and fishing. The proceedings are also less expensive than other forms of bankruptcy. However, for a debtor to successfully file for a Chapter 12 bankruptcy, a majority of the debt should have been for the farming or fishing operation. Also, the debt should not be more than $1,924,550 for a fishing operation or $4,153,150 for a farming operation. Besides filing for bankruptcy, there are other debt management options that debtors may explore. These include going through credit counseling and reaching an out-of-court agreement with the creditors on how the debt should be repaid.