California State Bankruptcy Laws


What are the California Bankruptcy Exemptions?

CaliforniaCalifornia has a list of certain types of property that are protected from your creditors when you file bankruptcy and cannot be taken in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You are typically allowed to keep all of your assets and property in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Certain exceptions and interpretations may apply, so it's wise to consult with a California bankruptcy attorney to find out if your assets would be protected in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Generally, the California bankruptcy exemptions are:

General California Exemptions
Real Estate (Homestead)
Exemption is $75,000 for family member living with one or more non-owner family members; $150,000 for a person who is 65 or older, disabled, or who is 55 or older with an annual gross income of $15,000 or less if single or $20,000 or less if married. Up to $50,000 of equity can be protected for all other persons.

A provision in the new bankruptcy law caps the homestead exemption at $125,000 if you have not lived in the state for at least 40 months prior to the time you file a bankruptcy petition. In some situations, the cap may be permanent. You should consult with a California bankruptcy attorney for specific information.

Automobiles
Up to $2,300 of the equity in all automobiles can be protected.
Other Property
Household furnishings, appliances, provisions, wearing apparel, and other personal effects are 100 exempt if they are ordinary and necessary. $2,300 of the aggregate equity in one or more automobiles is exempt. $6,075 each for jewelry and personal property used in the debtor's trade or business is exempt.
View the complete list of California bankruptcy exemptions

Please remember that this page provides general information only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. The information is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified bankruptcy attorney. If you need legal assistance, consult an attorney.

Which state's exemption laws apply in your bankruptcy?

California FlagGenerally, the laws of the state in which you lived for the 730 days (2 years) prior to filing a bankruptcy petition will apply in your bankruptcy.

If you have not lived in the same state for the 2 years immediately prior to filing your bankruptcy petition, the laws of the state in which you lived for the majority of the 180-day period preceding the 2-year period will likely apply.

If application of the preceding general rules renders you ineligible for exemptions under any state's laws, you may be allowed to choose the federal exemptions applicable in your bankruptcy.

Is California a community property state?

Yes, California is a community property state. Because it is a community property state, you are responsible for any debts that your spouse incurred while you were married. You are therefore equally liable for your spouse's debts even if you did not voluntarily assume liability for them by, for example, cosigning for a loan given to your spouse.

Did your senator vote in favor of the new bankruptcy laws?

Following years of intense lobbying by creditors, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA). How did your Senators vote on these largely pro-creditor provisions?

Boxer (D-CA) - YEA
Feinstein (D-CA) - YEA

California Bankruptcy Court Locations:

United States Bankruptcy Court - Central District of California
Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse

255 E. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 894-3118

United States Bankruptcy Court - Central District of California
3420 Twelfth Street
Riverside, CA 92501-3819
(951) 774-1000

United States Bankruptcy Court - Central District of California
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and
United States Courthouse

411 West Fourth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701-4593
(714) 338-5300

United States Bankruptcy Court - Central District of California
1415 State Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 884-4800

United States Bankruptcy Court - Central District of California
21041 Burbank Boulevard
Woodland Hills, California 91367
(818) 587-2900

501 I Street, Suite 3-200
Sacramento, California 95814
(916) 930-4400

1130 12th Street Suite C
Modesto, California 95354
(209) 521-5160

2500 Tulare Street, Suite 2501
Fresno, California 93721-1318
(559) 499-5800

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
1300 Clay Street
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 879-3600

United States Bankruptcy Court
1000 South Main, Room 214
Salinas, CA 93901
(831) 757-7420

U.S. Bankruptcy Court
235 Pine Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 268-2300

United States Courthouse, Room 3035
280 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113-3099
(408) 535-5118

99 South "E" Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
(707) 525-8539

The Jacob Weinberger U.S.Courthouse
325 West F Street
San Diego, California 92101
(619) 557-5620

Note: You may not have to actually go to one of the above bankruptcy courts. Trustees often conduct your meeting at a local venue.

Although bankruptcy is federal law, the bankruptcy courts in each jurisdiction have local rules that must be followed. A local bankruptcy attorney will be familiar with the specific rules in your area.

California Bankruptcy Attorney Locations:

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Bankruptcy Laws in Your State