Bankruptcy A-Z: V is for “VENUE”.
It may not be as sexy a topic as fraud, but venue is still important. Basically, venue is the proper place where a particular case should be filed or handled. In Bankruptcy, that is covered under section 1408 of Title 28.
WHAT IS VENUE?
Venue is different from jurisdiction. If you file a case in a court without jurisdiction, the court cannot even hear your case. The result is oversimplifying the matter, but it shows how vital jurisdiction is to any case. With venue, cases filed in the wrong court can be transferred of dismissed. Also, the parties can waive venue.
WHAT IS THE PROPER VENUE FOR MY BANKRUPTCY CASE?
The U.S. Code establishes 4 possible districts to file your case: (1) your domicile, (2) your residence, (3) your principal place of business in the United States, or (4) the location of your principal assets in the United States. In addition, many courts, like the Eastern District of Virginia where I practice, have multiple divisions. The same rules that apply to filing in the correct District will typically apply to filing in the correct Division.
Domicile is the place where you reside and have the intent to remain. Residence is where you currently live. For people in the military, on a short term assignment, or in school, these places could be different. For most people, they are the same place.
Now, I’ll bet that you are wondering if you could just move someplace and file immediately.
The answer is NO.
Under the Code, you have to file where you met the requirements to file for the majority of the 180 days prior to filing.
For example, if you lived in Denver, Colorado and then moved to Richmond, Virginia, you would have to file in Denver until you lived in Richmond for 91 days. If you moved your assets here earlier or your family moved here earlier and your spouse is also filing, then you could file in Richmond sooner.
Trustees can file motions to dismiss your case if you purposefully file in the wrong venue for whatever reason, but especially if you are filing to harm creditors.
BE CAREFUL ABOUT EXEMPTIONS.
Filing in the proper venue is only part of the analysis. The Bankruptcy Code does not allow you to move, wait the 91 days and use the law of the new state to protect your property. For that, you have to wait two years. For more information on that topic, see my post on exemptions.
If you live in the localities served by the Eastern District of Virginia, Richmond Division, which includes metro Richmond, Hanover County, Caroline County, and Henrico County, contact Consumer and Bankruptcy Attorney Mitchell Goldstein at mitch at mitchellpgoldstein.com or (804) 592-1674. I can help you in this Venue.
Other V posts:
Photo Credit: Antti Yrjönen at Flickr