Where Should I File My Bankruptcy?

by Kent Anderson, Esq.

November 23, 2009

Bankruptcy cases must be filed in the correct federal judicial district or they are subject to dismissal.  However, the location proper location for filing is not found in the bankruptcy code under Title 11.  Federal statutes outside the bankruptcy code must be consulted to determine the proper venue or place to file a bankruptcy case.

There are 94 different federal judicial districts. Each of them allows the filing of bankruptcy cases, usually in the bankruptcy court although bankruptcy cases can be handled by the federal district court as well.  A federal statute, 28 USC 1408(1) specifies where a bankruptcy case may be filed.  For a person, in most situations it is obvious where the case should be filed.  Most cases are filed where the individual has lived for more than the last three months prior to the date of filing.  The statute provides for filing in the district

in which the domicile, residence, principal place of business in the United States, or principal assets in the United States, of the person or entity that is the subject of the case have been located for the one hundred eighty days immediately preceding such commencement, or for a longer portion of such one-hundred-and-eighty-day period than  in any other district.

This statute applies to all types of bankruptcy, from chapter 7 through chapter 13.  This proper place of filing is referred to as venue for the proceeding.

Venue is generally considered to be permissive in that it is considered proper wherever the case is filed unless someone objects.  A bankruptcy case filed in one district can be moved to another district for the convenience of the parties to the proceeding or if the interests of justice are served by moving the case.  Rule 1014 of the Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure governs transfer of cases.  It permits the judge to either dismiss the case or transfer it if it was filed in a district that fails to meet one or more of the requirements of the statute.

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I was admitted to practice in 1978. I am certified as a Consumer Bankruptcy Specialist by the American Board of Certification. I regularly speak on tax and bankruptcy issues at state, regional and national conferences. Years of experience in practice before the Internal Revenue Service and Oregon Department of Revenue have given me the background to resolve a large variety of consumer tax issues.

Last modified: February 23, 2013