This question often comes up with people I talk to because I file cases in 2 different districts (Northern District of CA and Eastern District of CA). Where you file your bankruptcy is generally based on where you have lived for the majority of the past 180 days. This usually comes up when you have recently moved to the area and are trying to get back on your feet. As long as you have been in the district for 91 of the past 180 days, you can file there.
So how are the districts divided?
The Northern District of CA has 4 divisions: Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Rosa. If you live in Alameda or Contra Costa County, your bankruptcy case will be filed in the Oakland division and that is where your meeting of creditors will take place. Most of my Northern District cases are filed in Oakland.
The Eastern District of CA has 3 divisions: Fresno, Modesto, and Sacramento. If you live in San Joaquin County (where Tracy is located), your case is filed in the Sacramento division. However, your meeting of creditors will take place in Modesto. I always warn people who live in Tracy about this difference during the initial consultation. If you have to attend any court hearings associated with your case, those take place in Sacramento.
How does the court know if I have been in the district for at least 91 days?
One of the items that you have to fill out in your bankruptcy schedules is where you have lived during the past three years, including the dates you lived there. By asking this, the court is ensuring that you are using the right exemptions and whether you are eligible to file in the district. When I meet with someone who has recently moved, I calculate out the date when that person is able to file in the district and advise them of any potential issues that I see.
This is just a basic overview and is not legal advice specific to your situation. If you are considering bankruptcy or are feeling overwhelmed by debt, you should speak with an attorney in your area for legal advice. To speak with me regarding your situation, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-586-6738.