California Bankruptcy Laws

Key Points

The State of California doesn’t allow a debtor to opt for the federal exemptions. The state exemption limits have to be followed.

California offers the option of two state exemptions – System 1 and System 2

System 1 is beneficial for debtors with a lot of home equity and System 2 offers generous wildcard exemption, which makes it useful for debtors with lots of assets or cash in bank.

California doesn’t allow married couples filing joint bankruptcy, to double their exemption

Homestead

System 1 - Homestead exemption applies to real or personal property where the debtor resides, including condominium, mobile home, community apartment, boat, stock co-operative or planned development.

  • Up to $75,000 of home equity if single and not disabled
  • $100,000 if living with a family member
  • $175,000 if 65 years or older or if physically or mentally disabled
  • $175,000 if creditors intend to force sale home and the debtor is either (a) 55 years or older, single and earn under $25,000 per year, or (b) 55 or older, married and earn gross annual income under $35,000.

System 2 – Homeowners can exempt up to $24,060 of the equity in real or personal property used as residence.

Motor Vehicle

System 1 – $2,725 of equity in a single car or other vehicle

System 2 – $4,800 in car equity for one or more vehicle

Wages

System 1 - 75% of wages paid within 30 days prior to filing bankruptcy

Tools of trade

System 1

  • Up to $7,175 for tools, implements, materials, books, uniforms, instruments, one commercial vehicle, equipment, and furnishings total, or
  • Up to $14,350 if claimed by both spouses in the same occupation
  • Commercial vehicle up to $4,850, or $9,700 if used by both spouses in the same occupation

System 2
Up to $7,175 for tools, books and implements of trade

Personal property

System 1

  • Jewelry, heirlooms and works of art up to $7,175
  • Bank deposits from Social Security payments up to $2,875 for a single payee and $4,300 for married couples (unlimited for separate funds)

System 2

  • Up to an upper limit of $24,060 is allowed for burial plot, in lieu of homestead
  • $24,060 for personal injury recoveries
  • Jewelry up to $1,425
  • Personal goods, household furnishings, appliances, musical instruments, crops up to $650 per item

Wildcard

Up to $26,925 for any kind of property in System 2

Total or absolute exemptions

  1. Life insurance proceeds for support
  2. Un-matured life insurance policies
  3. Alimony and child support (till necessary)
  4. Unemployment compensation
  5. Social Security benefits
  6. Veterans' and retirement benefits
  7. Public assistance
  8. Relocation benefits
  9. Reparation benefits for Crime victims
  10. Health and disability insurance benefits
  11. Partnership property interest
  12. Prescribed medical aids or tools
  13. Personal household belongings and apparels
  14. Institutional aids for higher learning students
  15. Graveyard expenses including spouse
  16. Workers’ compensation benefits

Central District of California

Los Angeles (Main Office)

Street Address
United States Bankruptcy Court
Edward R. Roybal Federal Building and Courthouse
255 East Temple Street, Room 940
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Contact Number:
855-460-9641 (Toll Free)
213-894-3118
213-894-4696

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

Riverside

Street Address
United States Bankruptcy Court
3420 Twelfth Street
Riverside, CA 92501-3819

Contact Number:
855-460-9641 (Toll Free)
951-774-1000

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

Santa Ana

Street Address
United States Bankruptcy Court
Ronald Reagan Federal Building and
United States Courthouse
411 West Fourth Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701-4593

Contact Number:
855-460-9641 (Toll Free)
714-338-5300

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

Santa Barbara

Street Address
United States Bankruptcy Court
Federal Building
1415 State Street
Santa Barbara CA 93101

Contact Number:
855-460-9641 (Toll Free)
805-884-4800

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

Woodland Hills

Street Address
United States Bankruptcy Court
Warner Center
21041 Burbank Boulevard
Woodland Hills CA 91367-6609

Contact Number:
855-460-9641 (Toll Free)
818-587-2900

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

Northern District of California

San Francisco (Main Office)

Street Address
United States Courthouse
235 Pine Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 7341
San Francisco CA 94120-7341

Contact Number:
415-268-2300
415-268-2368
415-268-2302

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Oakland

Street Address
United States Courthouse
1300 Clay Street, 3rd Floor, Suite 300
Oakland, CA 94612

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 2070
Oakland, CA 94604-2070

Contact Number:
510-879-3600 (Toll Free)
510-879-3554
510-879-3556

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Santa Rosa

Street Address
United States Courthouse
99 South “E” Street
Santa Rosa, CA 95404-6517

Contact Number:
707-547-5900
510-879-3554
707-525-8539

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

San Jose

Street Address
Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and
United States Courthouse
280 South First Street, Room 3035
San Jose, CA 95113-3099

Contact Number:
408-278-7500
408-535-5118

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Eastern District of California

Sacramento (Main Office)

Street Address
United States Courthouse
Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse
501 I Street, Room 3-200
Sacramento, CA 95814

Contact Number:
916-930-4400

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Modesto

Street Address
United States Courthouse
1200 I Street, Suite 4
Modesto, CA 95354

Contact Number:
209-521-5160

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Fresno

Street Address
Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse
2500 Tulare Street, Suite 2501
Fresno, CA 93721

Contact Number:
559-499-5800
559-498-7217

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Bakersfield (Hearing Location)

Street Address
1300 18th Street, Suite A
Bakersfield, California 93301

Working Hours:
Periodical hearings

Southern District of California

San Diego

Street Address
Jacob Weinberger United States Courthouse
325 West F Street
San Diego, CA 92101-6998

Contact Number:
619-557-5620

Working Hours:
Monday-Friday
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (excluding Federal Holidays)

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