Bankruptcy Chapter 7 & 13

McDonald Law
Offices PLLC

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On this page:
FAQ Topics
  Stopping Creditors
When, Where & What
  to File

Debts Discharged
Child Support &
  Spousal Maintenance

Spouses & Joint Debts
Listing Creditors
Preference in
  Paying Creditors

Court Meeting
Property Lost
Tax Effect
Secured Debts
Changes &
  Chapter 13 Plan

Missed Plan Payments
Dismissed Cases
Credit after Bankruptcy

When, Where & What to File

I recently moved from Arizona.  Can I still file in Arizona?

Yes, if you have not been out of Arizona more than 90 days

However, like most things in the Bankruptcy Code, the answer is not quite as simple as it seems.  The state in which you must file is controlled by 11 U.S.C. � 1408.  That statute specifies that you can file only in the state in which you have had your domicile, residence, principal assets or principal place of business for the majority of the last 180 days.

In most consumer bankruptcy cases, the location of filing (we lawyer types call this venue) is based on residence.  As a result, you could file in Arizona until you had resided in the other state for more than 90 days.

But wait!  It can get more complicated if you moved to yet another state before you have been out of Arizona for 90 days.  Arizona might be the state you would have to file even when you had been out of Arizona for six months!  Remember, you can only file in the state where you have resided longest in the last 180 days.

One final note:  If you file in Arizona, you will have to return to Arizona for the court meeting.  [9-98]

How long do I have to reside in Arizona to file here?

The simple answer is that you can file in Arizona after you have resided here for 90 days.

The Bankruptcy code is almost never that simple, and if you read the previous question, this answer is going to sound very familiar.

The state in which you must file is controlled by 11 U.S.C. � 1408.  That statute specifies that you can file only in the state in which you have had your domicile, residence, principal assets or principal place of business for the majority of the last 180 days.

Since residence controls the place most consumer bankruptcies are filed, you can file here after you have resided here longer here than in any other state in the last six months.  If you were only in Arizona an one other state, that would be on the 91st day you are here.  If you resided in two other states for 60 days each, you could file here after you have been here for 61 days.  I'll let you do the math, but if you move a lot, it could be even less time.

Although you cannot file until you have met the residency requirement, you may retain an attorney and begin preparation of your case anytime.  If your attorney will allow you to refer creditors to his or her office (as our office does), it can stop annoying creditor's calls even before you file.  However, only filing will stop repossession, foreclosure, lawsuits and judgments.  [12-6-99]

Does bankruptcy have to be filed in the county in which you reside?

Bankruptcy cases generally have to be filed in the court having jurisdiction over cases in the county in which you reside, but there are exceptions.  If most of your assets are in another location, or your principal place of business is in another location, you may file in the court in that location.  � 1408.

The court location for every county in Arizona are given on our Locations page.

We handle cases for all counties in Arizona.  Usually, all matters can be taken care of by phone and mail, but you will have to attend a hearing based on where your case is filed.  [5-10-00]

Do bankruptcy filings get posted in the local papers?

Cases are public records, so any paper choosing to do so may publish the names of persons who have filed.  I am aware of no papers in the Phoenix area that publish those names, however, you may want to check in publications in your area to see if they devote a section to those listings.  My experience has been that papers serving smaller regions are more likely publish bankruptcy filings.  [5-10-00]

When you file Chapter 13, can you move out of state, and still just continue to mail your payments to trustee--as long as you notify them of changes?

Yes, once you have filed in the correct state (see the jurisdictional requirements above), you may move wherever you wish, assuming you return for your � 341 meeting and have a local attorney who can handle whatever else comes up.  Naturally, you will need to be sure to keep your attorney, the trustee and the court advised of your address. [1-4-00]

Can you file Chapter 13 after you have filed Chapter 7 have missed payments on accounts that have been reaffirmed?

Yes, you can file Chapter 13 even right after a Chapter 7. That is those of us in the bankruptcy practice would call a "Chapter 20." There is no real Chapter 20, but we bankruptcy attorneys amuse ourselves by proving that we can add.

Sometimes a Chapter 7 is immediately followed by a Chapter 13 intentionally. For example, if you had unsecured debt in excess of $269,250 you could not file Chapter 13, even to protect your home from foreclosure. After a Chapter 7, you would have no (or hopefully, much less) unsecured debt, and you could then file Chapter 13 to save your home.

In your case, you can file Chapter 13 to deal with secured debt which you reaffirmed.   [8-99]

I wanted to know if we can file for Chapter 7 for our medical bills.  My husband just had emergency surgery for his Appendix to be removed.  Plus we both had some medical bills collections on our credit from the past.  Also we wanted to file a chapter 13 on our car and van payments and credit cards.

You can file a Chapter 7 to discharge your medical bills.  However, filing two bankruptcies is probably not the most practical solution.

It is possible to file a Chapter 7 discharging certain unsecured debts like your medical bills and then file a Chapter 13 to deal with the vehicles.  People sometimes think that a Chapter 13 must pay all of the bills over the period of the plan, and that discharging unsecured debt in a Chapter 7 will reduce the payments in the subsequent Chapter 13.

A Chapter 13 does not require that all of your unsecured debt be paid.  In most of the Chapter 13 cases that we file, only a tiny portion of the unsecured debt (like medical bills and credit card debt) is paid.  The payments usually are applied directly to the claims secured by the home and vehicles.  As a result, it is quite possible that your payments would be virtually the same in a single Chapter 13 filing as they would be in a Chapter 13 filed after a Chapter 7.  [9-1-04]

These questions and answers are not intended as legal advice or as a statement of the law.  They are intended to suggest areas which you should discuss with your attorney.

Although Bankruptcy law is Federal code applicable to all states, the way it is applied may depend upon state law and varying practices of the courts, trustees, and even attorneys. As a result, some of these answers are directly applicable only in cases filed by our office in Arizona.

This page was last revised: 09/18/04