When you must file a Chapter 7 liquidation bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 reorganization bankruptcy, you must file your petition and other pleadings in the correct bankruptcy court. You will also need to attend a meeting of creditors—also called a 341 Meeting—where the bankruptcy trustee and your creditors have an opportunity to ask you questions of your financial affairs in the bankruptcy court system where you filed your petition. Hearings in Chapter 13 bankruptcies, such as a confirmation hearing to approve your Chapter 13 plan, will also be held at this court. Here, we discuss the bankruptcy courts where your bankruptcy could be heard.
Which Bankruptcy Court in Massachusetts Will Your Need to Go to for Bankruptcy Hearings?
The Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court is made up of three divisions: the Eastern Division, the Central Division, and the Western Division. There is one court in each of the three divisions: Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. (There is also a fourth court in Barnstable, which hears cases involving Cape Cod bankruptcies, but it is only open on certain days and is considered part of the Boston Court.)
The location of your home will determine where your case is assigned. The territories for each division are determined with the hope to spread cases evenly to each court. Here are the counties within each division of the Bankruptcy Court:
- Boston. Barnstable, Bristol, Dukes, Nantucket, Plymouth, and Suffolk county bankruptcies are assigned to the Eastern Division in Boston.
- Worcester. Worcester county bankruptcies are the only bankruptcies assigned to the Central Division in Worcester.
- Springfield. The Western Division Bankruptcy Court hears bankruptcies for people living in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties.
However, some counties are split between counties. These additional rules regarding court hearing location apply:
- Middlesex, Essex, and Norfolk counties have been carved up between the Boston and Worcester courts, and you might not be assigned to the court you would expect.
- The following towns in Middlesex County are assigned to the Boston Court: Arlington, Belmont, Burlington, Cambridge, Everett, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Natick, Newton, North Reading, Reading, Sherborn, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn. All other towns in Middlesex County are assigned to the Worcester Court.
- The following towns in Essex County are assigned to the Worcester Court: Andover, Bradford, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, and North Andover. All other towns in Essex County are assigned to the Boston Court.
- The following towns in Norfolk County are assigned to the Worcester Court: Bellingham, Franklin, and Medway. All other towns in Norfolk County are assigned to the Boston Court.
How Can You Know the Location Where Your Bankruptcy Case Will Be Heard?
The bankruptcy court where your case is assigned will send you a Notice of Hearing that states the date, time, and location of your 341 meeting and any other hearings that you need to attend. Depending on the procedures of the court division where your hearing will be conducted, your 341 meeting may be at another location other than the court. Your bankruptcy attorney can also advise you of the location of your bankruptcy hearing and prepare you for what to expect at the hearing.
Do you need to file a bankruptcy to get out of debt? At Brine Consumer Law, we will guide you through the complexities of filing a bankruptcy and prepare you for your 341 hearing and any other hearings that you are required to attend. To schedule a free consultation to get started, call our office to schedule your free consultation.