Where Should I File My Bankruptcy Petition?
There are many financial requirements you must meet to be discharged in bankruptcy in Florida. But there are also requirements that govern where to file for bankruptcy. Keep in mind that bankruptcy actions are established under federal law. You will not file bankruptcy in state court, but rather in federal bankruptcy court. The federal district where you file determines where your case will be heard.
What is the Basis for Where to File for Bankruptcy?
When filing a bankruptcy petition, these three factors may govern where you file. For a consumer bankruptcy, normally you will file in the same district as your residence. However, the court is going to want your case to be heard in the place most efficient for the bankruptcy trustee to administer your case without spending a lot of extra time and money. The trustee may need to examine and sell some assets. You will want to discuss which of these locations is the best for your situation with a good Florida bankruptcy attorney. Here are the three factors:
Normally, if most of your debts are consumer rather than business debts, you will file in the federal district where you live. However, if you are not living at the location of your legal residence or mailing address, you may have to file in another district. Also, if you moved in the last 180 days, you will probably need to file at your previous address.
If most of your debts are from running a business (as opposed to consumer debts such as those for medical bills, utilities, clothing, cars, etc.), then you will be able to file in the district of your business’s principal location. The 180-day exception will still apply.
In many bankruptcy cases, creditors don’t get anything, because you are allowed to keep certain property. However, if you have substantial assets that may be sold off by the trustee for the benefit of creditors, then you may want to file in the district where those assets are located. Otherwise, it may be difficult for a geographically distant trustee to sell your assets. If this is the case, the trustee may motion to move your case.
Divisions of the Federal Districts in Florida
When choosing where to file for bankruptcy, you must know there are three federal districts, the Northern, Middle and Southern districts. If you live in Tampa or Clearwater, do not have your primary assets or a business elsewhere, and do not meet any other exceptions such as the 180-day rule, you will file in the Middle District. Be aware that some divisions do not accept bankruptcy filings but only hear cases.
Districts are further divided into divisions. There are four divisions in the Middle District: the Tampa Division, the Fort Myers Division, the Jacksonville Division and the Orlando Division. The Fort Myers Division does not accept filings. Filings for that court must be done at the Tampa Division.
The Tampa Division of the Middle District serves Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, and Sarasota counties.
The Tampa Division is located at 801 N. Florida Avenue, Suite 555, Tampa Florida 33602.
It’s open Monday through Friday (except holidays) from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm.
Should you live in another area of Florida, you can find more information on bankruptcy court locations and where to file for bankruptcy by going to the Federal Court Finder.
What Happens if I File in the Wrong District?
If you file in the wrong district, the results range from mild to catastrophic. The bankruptcy clerk will accept your petition, and it’s even possible your case will proceed without incident. On the other hand, if you file in the wrong place, one of your creditors or the appointed bankruptcy trustee could file a motion to move your case (which at the least will cost you time) or to dismiss your case completely.
Don’t Take a Chance
Bankruptcy proceedings involve a lot of procedural requirements that may seem minor but can slow down your bankruptcy discharge or even stop it from moving forward at all. If you are considering bankruptcy, contact Ziegler Diamond Law: Debt Fighters for a free consultation by submitting this form or just call us directly at (727) 538-4188 in Clearwater, (813) 225-3111 in Tampa or (352) 600-1326 in Mt. Dora. We can guide you through the entire process. Where to file for bankruptcy is just the beginning.