U.S. Bankruptcy Court Help

Find Bankruptcy Courts by State and County for Jurisdiction

A debtor's county of residence during the last 2 years determines which U.S. Bankruptcy Court has jurisdiction and applicable state laws for exemptions. 11 U.S.C. Sec. 1408. If this requirement is not satisfied, debtors are not permitted to file. Also, filings are proper only within the district (and division if any) in which the debtor resided for the last 180 days. Debtors are responsible for the determination of their proper filing location, and if failing to satisfy both state and local requirements, the case will be dismissed.

The United States is divided into 13 Circuits - the 1st through 11th Circuits, the D.C. Circuit, and the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit does not accept individual cases, but rather maintains jurisdiction nationwide over appeals regarding patents, claims, and numerous administrative bodies. Each Federal Circuit is divided into state districts and many (but not all) state districts are subdivided into divisions. However, all Circuits, States and Divisions share many identical requirements. For more information regarding court practices, see:

Chapter 7 U.S. Bankruptcy Court Procedures:

Chapter 13 U.S. Bankruptcy Court Procedures:

Sixteen jurisdictions allow either federal or state statutes. By offering greater flexibility, these states do not experience higher filing rates than less generous neighbors. Oddly, the state that offers the lowest homestead and vehicle exemptions does not permit federal exemptions, yet also experiences the highest rate of filing in the nation.

In the past, creditors complained the minimum state residency requirement was insufficient. They claimed a longer minimum residency period would deter debtors from forum-shopping for favorable state law and reasonable judges. This complaint found a sympathetic ear with President Bush who, on April 20, 2005, signed the Reform Act of 2005. The Act increased the minimum state residency requirement from 180 days to 2 years. Most legal analysts were perplexed by this political logic, because the states with the lowest rate of filing tend to provide the most favorable exemptions, enabling residents to continue living, working, and paying taxes.

For assistance locating local districts and divisions, see Bankruptcy Court Locations and Jurisdiction. This directories parses divisions by state and county.