If I run away and join the circus, can I still file for bankruptcy?

Someone being hounded by debt collectors may well feel like running away, but if you actually have a job which requires the nomadic life of, say, a circus troupe, is it even possible to file a case with a bankruptcy court?

In a nutshell, the answer is yes.

The general rule for individuals is that if they live in any one state for 180 days — about six months — they can file their case with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the state and district where they have been living.

But what if you have moved in the last half-year or so? A loophole in the law allows individuals to file their case in the place where they have lived for the greater portion of that 180 day period.

A simple example would be a person who moves from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. On the 91st day of living in New Hampshire, he or she has lived there longer, so that becomes the place to file. In other words, there should never be more than a three month wait to file bankruptcy if you move once across a state line.

Now back to the circus troupe. If your life circumstances have kept you constantly on the move, you can still take advantage of the loophole. Whichever state you have lived in the longest during the last 180 days is the proper venue — even if “longest” means only a week or two.


By Doug Beaton

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