How Does Bankruptcy Work in New York State?

Learn where to find some of the information you'll need to file a New York bankruptcy case.

If you can’t pay your bills, filing for bankruptcy in New York can be a good solution. Educating yourself about the two bankruptcy chapters most individuals choose between—Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy—is an excellent place to start.

After you’ve determined which chapter will serve you best—and it’s time to complete the paperwork—this article will help you find other types of information you’ll need, including official bankruptcy forms, New York means test figures, credit counseling providers, and bankruptcy court locations. Also, you’ll have an opportunity to learn more about protecting property in a New York bankruptcy.

Official Bankruptcy Forms

The New York bankruptcy court cannot eliminate (discharge) your qualifying debt until you’ve disclosed your financial circumstances on official bankruptcy forms, including expenses, income, property, debts and recent financial transactions.

You can complete and download the forms on the U.S. Courts form page, then file your paperwork in the New York bankruptcy court. You’ll also include either your filing fee or a request for a fee waiver, as well as proof that you’ve completed a credit counseling course (more information below).

New York Bankruptcy Information

Even though federal law governs bankruptcy filings, some information specific to New York is necessary to complete your paperwork.

Means Testing and Credit Counseling Information

You’ll go to the website of the U.S. Trustee for two types of state-specific information: means testing figures and approved credit counseling providers.

  • Means test data. Before choosing to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you’ll have to show that your income qualifies by taking the “means test.” You automatically pass if your income is lower than the median income of New York. If your family’s income is above the median income, you still might pass the test after subtracting allowed expenses. The U.S Trustee maintains income charts and expense figures on its website (select "Means Testing Information”). If you choose a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, you’ll use a calculation similar to the means test to determine your monthly payment.
  • Credit counseling providers. Before you file, you’ll likely need to complete a session with a credit counseling service. After you file, you’ll take a debt management course before receiving a discharge. The U.S. Trustee publishes a list of approved providers on its website under “Credit Counseling & Debtor Education.” Scroll down to find the New York judicial districts.

New York Bankruptcy Exemptions

When you file a New York bankruptcy case, you’ll probably be able to exempt (protect) most of your property, but there are limits.

  • Exempt property. To protect an asset, it must appear on the list of New York exemptions or the list of federal bankruptcy exemptions. Because you live in New York, you can choose the list you’d like to use, but you can’t mix and match by choosing exemptions from both lists.
  • Nonexempt property. You’ll turn over any property that doesn’t appear on the exemption list you choose to the Chapter 7 trustee, who will sell it for the benefit of your creditors. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead, you won’t turn over any property. You’ll pay your creditors for any nonexempt property you keep through your Chapter 13 plan payments.

Learn more about the property you can exempt by reading New York Bankruptcy Exemptions.

New York Bankruptcy Court Locations and Websites

The state of New York has three federal judicial districts—the Northern District, Eastern District, and Southern District of New York. Each district has a bankruptcy court with several divisions.

To determine which division with jurisdiction over your case, use the Federal Court Locator page. Click on “Bankruptcy” in the drop-down box, then enter your location information. You can also reach a court clerk at one of the phone numbers listed below.

On each court’s website (links below), you’ll find instructions for filing your paperwork and other information you’ll need, like the court’s local rules. Click on “Filing Without an Attorney.”

Northern District of New York

Eastern District of New York

Southern District of New York

James T. Foley Courthouse
445 Broadway, Suite 330
Albany, New York 12207
(518) 257-1661

Alexander Pirnie Federal Building
10 Broad Street
Utica, New York 13501
(315) 793-8101

James Hanley Federal Building
100 South Clinton Street
Syracuse, New York 13261
(315) 295-1600

Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Courthouse
271-C Cadman Plaza East

Suite 1595
Brooklyn, NY 11201-1800
(347) 394-1700

Alfonse M. D'Amato U.S. Courthouse
290 Federal Plaza
Central Islip, New York 11722
(631) 712-6200

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
One Bowling Green
New York, New York 10004-1408
(212) 668-2870

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
355 Main Street
Poughkeepsie, New York 12601-3315
(845) 451-6372

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
300 Quarropas Street, Room 248
White Plains, New York 10601
(914) 467-7250

This overview intends to provide some of the information needed by a filer when preparing a bankruptcy case. Filing without an attorney can be difficult, and each filer is responsible for understanding the law. Consider purchasing a do-it-yourself book like How to File Chapter 7 Bankruptcy by Attorney Cara O’Neill and Albin Renauer J.D.

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