Where Exactly Is My Bankruptcy Filed in New York?
It often surprises people who file for bankruptcy in New York to learn where exactly their case is filed. Many know where the courts are located, having passed courthouses as they drive around their neighborhoods, and they assume that is where their bankruptcy case is filed.
Bankruptcy cases are filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court, which by its name shows that it is a federal court, not a state court. The courthouses people are used to seeing are usually state courts, and in New York City, for example, there are three of them: Civil Court, Supreme Court and Criminal Court. In Nassau and Suffolk Counties, there is a District Court , a County Court and many Justice Courts. All together, there are dozens of courthouses in the New York City metropolitan area. However, there are only two federal courts in the metropolitan area and they have only five courthouses all together.
The federal court system is divided into districts. Each state has at least one. For example, there is only one federal district court in New Jersey. In New York, there are four: the Northern District of New York, the Western District of New York, the Southern and the Eastern Districts of New York. The Southern District comprises the counties of New York (Manhattan), the Bronx, Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan Counties. The Eastern District includes Richmond County (Staten Island), Kings County (Brooklyn), Queens County, and Nassau and Suffolk Counties.
The Eastern District’s courthouses are located in two places – Cadman Plaza East in downtown Brooklyn, and Central Islip, New York. For bankruptcy cases filed for debtors who live in Richmond, Kings and Queens Counties, the cases will be heard at 271-C Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn. This building also houses the main Brooklyn post office. For cases filed for people who live in Nassau or Suffolk Counties, the case will be heard at the Central Islip courthouse, which is just off of Exit 43A of the Southern State Parkway in Suffolk County.
In the Southern District, cases filed for debtors who live in Manhattan and the Bronx will be heard in downtown Manhattan. The courthouse is located at One Bowling Green, New York, New York, which is the Old Customs House and which also houses the Smithsonian’s Native American museum. However, the initial hearing, which is usually all that Chapter 7 debtors have to attend, is held in an office building at 80 Broad Street, New York, New York, about a block away from the courthouse.
Debtors living in Westchester and Rockland Counties will have their cases heard in the courthouse at 300 Quarropas Street, White Plains, New York. Both the initial hearing and any courtroom hearings are in the same building. All other Southern District cases are heard at the courthouse at 355 Main Street, Poughkeepsie, New York.
The title of this post asks where the case is filed. While the above shows where the case is heard, the case is filed over the internet from the attorney’s office. Cases have been filed this way for over ten years, and it certainly makes life easier for all involved. One of the biggest advantages of filing electronically is that when there is an emergency, we can file papers instantly and do not even have to wait for the courthouse to open. In one case, a debtor came to see us the evening before her house was to be sold at a foreclosure auction. Before electronic filing, we would have had to be standing outside the Bankruptcy Courthouse at 9:00 a.m. to file the papers, then rush to the courthouse where the sale was taking place to stop the sale. In this case, we filed from our office at 8:00 p.m. and sent a fax to the attorneys for the bank to stop the sale.
If this all seems complicated, there is no reason to worry. We always give our clients precise directions on how to get to the Courthouse, and call them up the day before their hearing to make sure they know where to go.
Allan Bloomfield practices bankruptcy law in Forest Hills, Queens. Contact Allan today for a free consultation.