U.S. District Courts, that is, federal courts, handle bankruptcy cases. In New York, these courts are broken into four geographical districts—the Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western districts—according to the National Archives online. According to research by a New York law firm, there are visible trends in bankruptcy filings in upstate New York, as reported by the New York Law Journal in a December 27, 2012 article.

Bankruptcy filings were down, perhaps due to the weak economy, said the article. The reasoning behind this lies in non-business Chapter 11 bankruptcies. Each type of consumer bankruptcy, Chapters 7, 11 and 13, has its own regulations as to who can file. If an individual has unsecured debts above $1,081,400 or secured debts above $360,475, they cannot file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Instead, some of those above those limits file a non-business Chapter 11 bankruptcy. While these bankruptcies are complex and costly (sometimes costing $20,000), it is the right option for a select, wealthy few, who are mostly located downstate. Thus, the weak economy makes it harder for most people to file for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

It is important to note that non-business Chapter 11 bankruptcies are not filed at a steady rate in New York State. For example, in 2001, 75 New Yorkers filed Chapter 11 bankruptcies, but only 26 did so in 2006.

The firm also found that people in the Northern and Western districts filed a small percentage of non-business bankruptcies. In 2011, only 3% of bankruptcies filed in New York State were filed in those two districts. That figure is down from 13% a decade earlier.

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