How can I find the closest bankruptcy court?
If you are considering filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy it is important to understand the process. Debtors often hire a bankruptcy lawyer, especially if they are filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, but if you do decide to file your own bankruptcy you will need to locate the appropriate bankruptcy court.
Steps to find the right federal court
1. Visit uscourt.gov
The first step to locate the nearest bankruptcy court is to visit the uscourts.gov website. There are ninety-four federal judicial districts. Most districts have bankruptcy courts which hear bankruptcy cases. Bankruptcy cases are not filed in state courts.
Uscourt.gov contains information about each of the federal courts, the difference between federal and state courts, and the types of cases each court hears. General information about Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, as well as forms to file each bankruptcy, can also be found on this site.
2. Click "Court Locator" link
To find a court location click a state on the map or use advanced search. For instance, if you live in Texas you will need to click the state of Texas on the map. The screen will display the circuit court, office name, city, state, zip code and details about the corresponding courts.
If, for example, you live in Austin you will need to file your bankruptcy case in the Texas Western Bankruptcy Court which is in the 5th Circuit. It is located in Austin, Texas. Click the "Details" link for additional information about the court, including the address, phone number, website for the court, and a physical map.
By clicking on the website link for the Texas Western Bankruptcy Court you can find more information under the Quick Links section such as bankruptcy information, case filing information, filing fees, scheduling information, contact information, and the location of the court.
3. Check if there are satellite locations.
In most parts of the country there will be a bankruptcy court relatively near where you live. If, however, you live in a district which covers an unusually large area you can contact the bankruptcy court to find out if there are other options, such as a satellite location, which may accept your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 petition. Do not try to file your case in a state court. Bankruptcy petitions can only be filed in federal courts.
Additional rules for filing your bankruptcy
There are several additional rules for filing your bankruptcy case. For instance, you will need to file your bankruptcy case in the court where you have lived or maintained a permanent residence for the 180 days immediately before you file. If you are filing bankruptcy for your business you will need to file bankruptcy where you assets are located or your principal place of business has been located for the 180 days before you file. If you have recently moved you will need to file bankruptcy in the court where you lived or had your assets or business for the greater portion of those 180 days.
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Currently the filing fee to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition is $281, but this does not include lawyer's fees.