Where do I file a bankruptcy petition?

Bankruptcy courts are part of the federal judicial system. This means bankruptcy proceedings are governed by federal law. Before you file your bankruptcy petition, make sure you have listed every creditor that you owe money to. Failure to do so can result in dismissal of your bankruptcy petition. Further, lying on a bankruptcy petition can result in a jail sentence.

Filing a Bankruptcy Petition 

When you are ready to turn in your bankruptcy petition, you will need to file it at a bankruptcy court. Each federal district has one or more bankruptcy courts, each of which is responsible for debtors within a certain geographic region. You can file a petition in a district where you have been domiciled, which means that you have a primary residence or have otherwise treated this place as your home. 

You can also file in a district that you have a principal place of business, where you have had principal assets for 180 days, or where you have had assets at least for the longer part of 180 days than in any other district. You may also file in a district where an affiliate, or general partner, has a pending case. If you’ve just moved from another district, you would need to wait until the 91st day after moving to file in your new district. If you file in the district where you used to live, you may be able to persuade the court to transfer the case anyway.  

What Happens after Filing a Bankruptcy Petition?

After you have filed your bankruptcy petition with the appropriate court, an automatic stay will go into effect. This means your creditors will have to stop all collection efforts. If they continue to contact you after you have filed for bankruptcy, simply give them your bankruptcy case number and all collection action will stop.

It is important to note that if you have had a recent claim dismissed, you may not receive an automatic stay. After the court reviews your claim, it will send a Notice of Commencement to each of your creditors to inform them that you have filed for bankruptcy. Your claim will usually be completed four to six months after you file. This website offers a directory to help you locate the website for your local bankruptcy court.