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Understanding bankruptcy and the bankruptcy process is an essential step for any person who is considering bankruptcy to correct serious debt issues. Unfortunately, a working understanding of the bankruptcy system is not something that is gained overnight. In fact, bankruptcy laws are highly complex and technical. Furthermore, bankruptcy is an area of the law where a single mistake can result in a loss of the legal and financial benefits provided by bankruptcy. Serious mistakes may even be viewed by the court as attempted fraud. Taxpayers who find themselves in this position may no longer be eligible for a bankruptcy filing or may encounter significant skepticism at the court.

Therefore, the Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers of Sadek & Cooper are proud to address some of the concerns expressed by potential clients. In this post, we will analyze where Philadelphians must file their bankruptcy petition. In future posts, we except to address a number of other common bankruptcy concerns.

Where Should Philadelphians File a Bankruptcy Petition?

The first issue in assessing where a potential client should file his or her bankruptcy turns on the individual’s residency. For purposes of bankruptcy law,  a person is considered to be a resident of a particular state when he or she has lived in the state for at least 91 of the past 180 days (six months). This is an individual determination that is fact-sensitive to your particular situation. Whether you qualify as a resident of Pennsylvania or as a resident of another state is an important initial determination that can only be made after a careful assessment of your facts and circumstances.

If the attorney determines that you are a resident of Pennsylvania, he or she is likely to engage in further inquiry. This is because the state of Pennsylvania is divided into three federal court districts: Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Middle District of Pennsylvania, and Western District of Pennsylvania. Your location of residence in the state determines in what federal court situated in the State of Pennsylvania you will file.

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For Philadelphians and others living in southeastern Pennsylvania, their bankruptcy filing is proper in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Bankruptcy Court. This means that individuals with the following Philadelphia zip codes would file their Chapter 7, Chapter 13, or other bankruptcy petition in this court:

• 19102
• 19103
• 19104
• 19106
• 19107
• 19109
• 19111
• 19112
• 19114
• 19115
• 19116
• 19118
• 19119
• 19120
• 19121
• 19122
• 19123
• 19124
• 19125
• 19126
• 19127
• 19128
• 19129
• 19130
• 19131
• 19132
• 19133
• 19134
• 19135
• 19136
• 19137
• 19138
• 19139
• 19140
• 19141
• 19142
• 19143
• 19144
• 19145
• 19146
• 19147
• 19148
• 19149
• 19150
• 19151
• 19152
• 19153
• 19154

Aside from these zip codes, all of Philidelphia County is served by Pennsylvania’s Eastern District Bankruptcy Court. Furthermore, residents of Bucks, Lancaster, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties would also file in this court.

Why Is it Essential that a Bankruptcy Petition Is Filed in the Proper Court?

While bankruptcy law draws heavily on federal law, a complete understanding also requires familiarity with the state-based rules that will affect any filing. For instance, in Pennsylvania, bankruptcy filers have the option of using the state or federal property exemptions. A Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney can inform you that this option is available in the state and assess which set of exemptions is likely to produce a more favorable result.

Aside from understanding the interplay between federal and relevant state bankruptcy laws, a number of local rules specific to that court are also an important consideration. In fact, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has set up a dedicated web page listing an array of local rules and standing orders that must be respected when filing in this court. Furthermore, the court may set forth specific instructions and procedures regarding how creditor notification should be handled. In fact, most if not all courts have specific orders for how the “mailing matrix” of creditors must  be formatted.  Furthermore, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania also provides a number of local forms that all filers must navigate and utilize appropriately.

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Work With a Philadelphia Bankruptcy Lawyer

Working with a lawyer who understands not only federal and state bankruptcy laws but also these local rules and requirements can expedite your bankruptcy filing by avoiding mistakes and errors that would otherwise delay the matter. The attorneys of Sadek & Cooper are proud to work with Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians who are looking to address their debt problems and get a fresh financial start. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call our law firm at 215-995-2543 today. We have locations conveniently located in Center City, northeast Philadelphia, Delaware County, Bucks County, and in southern New Jersey.