Where Do I File My Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case?
Updated: Oct 19
If you file your bankruptcy case in the wrong court, it may be transferred or dismissed.
The issue is venue--the court where your bankruptcy case is to be filed.
The law says your bankruptcy case has to be filed in the district court for the district in which you have been domiciled or resided for the 180 days immediately before the case was filed. If you have lived in more than one district, you go with the district you have been in for the greater part of the 180-days. 11 U.S.C. 1408(a).
There are special rules that apply to businesses, but since we're just talking about humans, those don't need to be mentioned here.
"Domicile" is generally defined as where you live, physically, and where you intend to remain, or return to. Courts look at the totality of the person's contacts with a state and his or her intent to remain there.
Unlike domicile, a person may have more than one residence at a time. However, for venue purposes when filing bankruptcy, "residence" means "a permanent residence, one's home, as distinguished from a mere stopping place for the transaction of either business or pleasure." In re Frame (BC SD NY 1990) 120 B.R. 718, 723,
But a defect in venue is waived if not timely raised. So, even if you file your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in the wrong court, unless someone objects, nothing will happen. Filing your bankruptcy case in the wrong court does not affect the court's power to hear the case.
However, if a timely objection is made, and the court finds that venue is improper, the court will either transfer the case to the proper court, or dismiss the case.
If you are considering filing bankruptcy in Los Angeles, contact an experienced bankruptcy in Long Beach for a free, no-obligation consultation (562) 479-0939.