Reasons why a bankruptcy case might get dismissed

If you do file a bankruptcy case, generally you don’t want the court to dismiss it out from under you! Generally, dismissals look bad on your record — if you file another case right after the dismissal, you might have to “beg” a bankruptcy judge to let you file again.

Forth Worth bankruptcy attorney Reed Allman recently put together a list of some of the reasons why debtors have their cases tossed out.

At the top of Reed’s list was “failing to provide tax returns to the bankruptcy trustee at least seven days prior to the meeting of creditors.” Here in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, this will typically not trigger an instant dismissal, but rather a stern request from the trustee to cough up the returns, as well as a postponement of the creditors meeting (read: another trip to court for you). Eventually, of course, if you refuse to provide the returns, your case will be dismissed. Note that if you are not required by the tax law to file a return (say, an elderly debtor with just a small social security check), you are excused from this requirement.

The second reason for dismissal is related: failing to give the trustee your paystubs for the 60 days prior to the day you filed your case. Again, if you weren’t working during that time, you are excused. As a practical matter, you give the taxes and paystubs to your attorney, who gives them to the trustee: if this isn’t happening, something is wrong!

A third cause for dismissal is “if the debtor is found engaging in delaying tactics with the aim of manipulating the system and preventing creditors from being repaid.” Anyone doing that probably deserves to have their case thrown out!

Fourth on the list is failure to pay court-mandated fees and costs. Note that in cases of extreme hardship, the court’s filing fee can be paid in installments.

In the case of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, the bankruptcy can be dismissed if the debtor fails to make payments to the bankruptcy trustee one the repayment plan has been implemented. As a practical matter, these cases often result in a new Chapter plan being submitted to the court, or having the case converted to Chapter 7 instead of being dismissed.

Finally, a debtor’s Chapter 13 bankruptcy case may be dismissed of the debtor fails to file a repayment plan in a timely manner. Under usual circumstances, a plan should be submitted at the time the case is filed, or within two weeks afterward.


By Doug Beaton

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