This post addresses PACER and bankruptcy – specifically how you can use PACER to make your bankruptcy a bit less stressful. With Pacer, bankruptcy court records are easily viewed online from the comfort of your own home.
What is PACER?
If you've never heard of PACER, you haven't necessarily been living under a rock. Most people will never need to know about PACER. However, if you have filed bankruptcy, or are going to file bankruptcy, you do need to know about PACER and how you can use it to monitor your case.
PACER is the acronym for Public Access to Court Electronic Records. It is typically used by lawyers, but it is accessible to all.
Why use PACER?
So, do you really need to use PACER? No, you don’t. However, many people find it comforting to be able to view any documentation that is filed with the court over the course of their bankruptcy. In my case, I had an issue with a creditor who added themselves to my creditor matrix after the bankruptcy petition had been filed.
I owed that creditor nothing when I filed. It was a mistake, and my lawyer, though a good one, did not tell me about it. It ended up being corrected eventually, but it delayed my discharge by several months. Had I not discovered the documentation on PACER, I definitely would have been worrying about why my simple Chapter 7 case was not yet discharged. Bankruptcy is a stressful enough when nothing goes wrong.
You'll want to use PACER if you find it hard to talk to your attorney. If you'd rather view your court records online, that's perfectly understandable. Bankruptcy is a hard thing to talk about, even with a competent lawyer.
If you're going to file without an attorney (or PRO SE)) you especially need to use PACER. As I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s a good idea to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, but if you’re going to go that route, you’re going to need PACER.
Lastly, if you want to check for milestones as they occur in your bankruptcy, PACER is the place to do that. Those milestones include things like your Declaration of No Assets and, of course, your bankruptcy discharge.
How Much Does PACER Cost?
It costs .08 per page. That is .08 per page viewed (not just printed). However, you are not charged anything unless you rack up at least ten bucks in charges per quarter. That is why you don’t want to check your bankruptcy status too frequently, or go nosing around and looking at other cases. There have been many people who have become obsessed with PACER, and it has cost them a small fortune. When I was going through bankruptcy, I made it a point not to check it constantly, and I never paid a penny for the service.
One final word of caution: do not view your bankruptcy court records through third party sites. Entering information on third party sites that promise to deliver your PACER records can make your information accessible to the search engines. The search engines do not have the ability to access your records on the PACER site. Only use www.PACER.gov.
Let me know if there are any other questions about PACER and bankruptcy by me dropping a comment.
May your fresh start come very soon,