A common question we get is “where will my case be filed”? Bankruptcy cases arise from the Federal Bankruptcy Code and therefore are heard and prosecuted in Federal Courts. In legal terms, this is called “jurisdiction”.
“Venue” is the legally proper place where a particular case should be filed or heard. The Federal Code provides that a Bankruptcy Case (or as it states in the Code, “a case under Title 11”), under any of the Chapters, may be commenced in the district “in which the domicile, residence, principal place of business in the United States, or principal assets in the United States” of the individual or corporate debtor has been located during the 180 days immediately proceeding the bankruptcy filing. There are other provisions in the Federal Code that give a debtor latitude in certain circumstances to file a case in other locations, if, for example, a new case is to be filed by an affiliate of a corporate debtor who has already filed in a particular district.
Cases which are filed in New Jersey, are filed in the venue of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey. The New Jersey Bankruptcy Courts are is divided into three (3) units or vicinages. These vicinages are located in the federal courthouses in Newark, Trenton, and Camden.
New Jersey Local Bankruptcy Rules govern the assignment of cases. Although a debtor has a right to file a bankruptcy case in any of these vicinages, the Court can transfer a case if it finds that the matter is more properly heard in another vicinage. Generally though, the assignment of a case is based on the county in which the debtor resides (if the debtor is an individual or married couple) or the address where a corporate debtor has its principal place of business in New Jersey. The Local Rules divide the assignment of cases as follows:
1. The Newark vicinage consists of Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Passaic, Sussex and Union Counties.
2. The Trenton vicinage consists of part of Burlington (except for the townships of Cinnaminson, Delran, Edgewater Park, Evesham (Marlton), Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside and Riverton), Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Warren counties.
3. The Camden vicinage consists of Atlantic, part of Burlington (the townships of Cinnaminson, Delran, Edgewater Park, Evesham (Marlton), Maple Shade, Moorestown, Mount Laurel, Palmyra, Riverside and Riverton), Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
Over the years, the Courts in the District have changed the assignment of cases by modifying the Local Rules.
Thus, even in what would appear to be a simple matter as the location of the filing of a bankruptcy petition, an individual, married couple, or corporation, should review the location (venue and assignment) of a potential bankruptcy filing with an attorney experienced in these matters. This blog and site provide information about the law designed to help users educate themselves about their own legal needs. But legal information is not the same as legal advice — the application of law to an individual’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.