Whether you want to file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, you must file your case at the proper Bankruptcy Court. For example, if you live in Los Angeles, you cannot choose to file in Sacramento, CA Bankruptcy Court just because you are visiting your parents during your vacation without any of the required connection to Sacramento, California. I do get a couple of calls now and then relating to this issue so I will briefing address the general rule. Of course, it is best to consult an experienced Sacramento Bankruptcy Attorney to determine correct venue because all the nuances cannot be covered in a simple webpage.

Bankruptcy Code 28 USC § 1408 determines where you can file your bankruptcy case.

Your Bankruptcy case can be filed in the district:

“(1) in which 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 such case have been located for the one hundred and eighty days immediately preceding such commencement, or for a longer portion of such one-hundred-and-eighty-day period than the domicile, residence, or principal place of business, in the United States, or principal assets in the United States, of such person were located in any other district; or
(2) in which there is pending a case under title 11 concerning such person’s affiliate, general partner, or partnership.”

28 USC § 1408(1)

Under 28 USC § 1408(1), look at the majority of the 180-day period immediately prior to the petition filing date where the Debtor lives (aka domicile or residence), principal place of business in the United States, or principal assets in the United States. If there is a change of location during this 180-day period, you look at the location of the majority of the 180-day period. There may be a strategic reason to file immediately or delay filing depending where you would like to file your bankruptcy case.

Domicile or Residence

Venue determination for individual debtor typically is based on the Debtor’s domicile or residence. “Domicile” and “Residence” can mean different things. “Domicile” means the place where debtor lives and has an intent to make a permanent home. “Residence” general means the place where the debtor lives. When debtor owns multiple homes located in different districts, most court have held that only one address is the debtor’s residence or domicile as opposed to a temporary or vacation home.

Principal Place of Business in the United States

Venue may be based on debtor’s principal place of business in the United States if the debtor is self-employed. If there are several districts where debtor conduct business, only one is the “principal: place of business. This does not applied to employee and the employer’s place of employment cannot be the basis for venue.

Principal Assets in the United States

For individual debtor, venue may be based on the location of debtor’s principal assets in the United States. For most individual debtors the principal assets is the same location as their residence or domicile. However, if debtor’s principal assets are located in a place other than debtor’s residence or domicile, this may be an alternative venue for filing bankruptcy case.

I’m not going to go into details of 28 USC § 1408(2) because my practice is focus on Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy consumer and small business cases.

For more information, call Muoi Chea experienced bankruptcy attorney in Sacramento, Stockton, Fairfield, California. For over a decade, she has helped consumers and small business eliminate and restructure their debts all over Northern and Central California: Elk Grove, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Folsom, El Dorado, Sacramento, Vacaville, Fairfield, Vallejo, Stockton, Modesto, Tracy, Woodland, Davis, and other nearby cities and counties.