Halt a Lawsuit by Filing Bankruptcy
Disclaimer: This guide is intended as general information only. Your case may have factors requiring different procedures or forms. The information and instructions are provided for use in the Sacramento County Superior Court. Please keep in mind that each court may have different requirements. If you need further assistance, consult a lawyer.
This guide assumes you have already started your bankruptcy case, and that the creditor who is now suing you is listed in the Petition. If not, consult the law library or an attorney for information about petitioning for bankruptcy or amending the petition.
Click here to download this guide with sample compled forms.
This packet includes:
Customizable versions of the Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180) and POS-030 Proof of Service (POS-030) are available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms/.
Filing for bankruptcy immediately stops all attempts to collect debts included in the bankruptcy from you, including lawsuits. This is known as the "automatic stay."
Perhaps you have been sued, and are planning to file for bankruptcy. Or maybe you are already in bankruptcy, and you have received a Summons and Complaint. Either way, you need to let the plaintiff and the superior court know about the bankruptcy so the state case is put on hold. The federal court trumps the state court, but the only way the state court will know about the bankruptcy and stay is if you file CM-180 and POS-030. This guide explains the process and contains a sample of the Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180).
You will need a copy of the first page of your Petition for Bankruptcy (or other document showing that the stay is in effect and showing the court, case number, debtor, and petitioners) stamped by the court and showing your case number. Using the information from your bankruptcy case, fill out the Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180), attach a copy of the Petition for Bankruptcy, and file and serve it in the state court. If you have not yet responded to the state court case, you may want to file an Answer along with this notice to protect yourself in case the bankruptcy is dismissed.
Step 1: Download the Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180) and fill it out. Use the information from your bankruptcy case to customize it to fit your circumstances. Customizable versions of the Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180) and POS-030 Proof of Service (POS-030) are available at http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms/.
Step 2: Attach a file-stamped copy of the first page of Petition for Bankruptcy, showing the date you filed and the bankruptcy case number.
Step 3: If you have not already filed a response (answer) in the state lawsuit, prepare a response. Consult the law library or an attorney for more information about this step.
If you are a Sacramento County resident, our Civil Self-Help Center may be able to assist you with preparing the response. For more information, see our Civil Self-Help Center page (http://www.saclaw.org/pages/civil-self-help-center.aspx/).
Step 4. Make one complete set of copies for all parties that have appeared in the state case. Have someone (NOT YOU) mail one set of copies to the plaintiff, and one set each to any other parties in the case. You cannot serve your own documents. Documents must be served by someone over 18 who is not a party to the case. That person needs to fill out the Proof of Service (POS-030) and mail the copies. If you are filing an Answer, have them mail it as well, and fill out a separate Proof of Service for it. (For more information see our Proof of Service by Mail Step-By-Step guide at http://www.saclaw.org/pages/pos-mail.aspx.)
Step 5. Make a copy of the signed Proof of Service for each remaining set of copies and staple them together. Each set of copies should now contain:
- Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180) – the form you filled out.
- File-stamped copy of your Petition for Bankruptcy
- Proof of Service – signed by the person who served the papers on the plaintiff.
If you are filing an answer at the same time, you should have copies of the Answer and its Proof of Service as a second set.
Put the original signed Proof of Service with your original signed set of papers.
Step 6. Make at least 3 copies of the set of papers. The court needs two, and will endorse (file-stamp) one copy for you to keep. If you are filing an Answer, make the same number of copies.
Step 7: If you are filing an Answer, file the ORIGINAL Answer and two copies in the state court where the lawsuit was filed. You will get endorsed (filed) copies in return. There will be a fee ranging from $225-$435 to file the Answer. If you cannot pay the fee, you may fill out a Fee Waiver Request. (For more information, see our Fee Waiver Step-by-Step Guide.)
Step 8. File the ORIGINAL Notice of Stay of Proceedings (CM-180) and two copies in the state court where the lawsuit was filed. You will get endorsed (file stamped) copies in return. If this is the very first thing you have filed in the case, and you don't file an Answer, there will be a first appearance fee ranging from $225-435. Again, if you cannot pay the fee, you may fill out a Fee Waiver Request. If you have already filed an answer, there will be no charge to file the CM-180.
For help with bankruptcy:
Bankruptcy Pro Se Assistance Desk
Federal Courthouse, 501 I Street, 3rd Floor, Room 3-210
A volunteer attorney can help select bankruptcy forms, explain your rights and duties during bankruptcy, and answer questions about procedures.
Debt Collection Defense and Bankruptcy Clinic (VLSP)
Voluntary Legal Services Program of Northern California is a nonprofit agency that provides free civil legal assistance to low-income people in Sacramento and surrounding counties. Services include assistance with bankruptcy and other legal problems associated with collection of debts.
Community Legal Services - McGeorge School of Law – Bankruptcy Clinic
Low-income clients are provided legal representation in Chapter 7 proceedings; dischargeability proceedings; and legal advice regarding debt collection issues. Intake is open only during certain times of the year, generally January and July.
For help responding to a civil Summons and Complaint:
Sacramento County Public Law Library, Civil Self Help Center
609 9th St., Sacramento CA 95814
FOR MORE INFORMATION
See our Legal Resource Guides on "Responding to a Lawsuit" and "Bankruptcy."
Reviewed EN 9/2013 /Updated 4/2013 kf
Notice of Stay of Proceedings (Judicial Council Form CM-180)
Click for full-sized version.
Copy of First Page of Petition for Bankruptcy
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Proof of Service (Judicial Council Form POS-030)
Click for full-sized version.