Like any court case, a bankruptcy case can be dismissed for various reasons. A judge may dismiss a bankruptcy case with prejudice or without prejudice, but dismissal without prejudice is more common.
(Learn more about bankruptcy procedures.)
What Is Dismissal Without Prejudice?
Dismissal without prejudice means that although the court has dismissed your case, you are free to refile it as long as you are eligible. If the court dismissed your case and ordered that you must wait a certain number of days before refiling, you can refile once that time period has lapsed.
Reasons for Dismissal Without Prejudice
The court might dismiss your bankruptcy case without prejudice for a number of reasons, including:
- failure to submit all necessary forms, including your bankruptcy schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs
- filing a bankruptcy chapter for which you are ineligible (for example, if you file a Chapter 7 case but you had a previous Chapter 7 discharged in the past eight years, the court will dismiss your case because you do not qualify)
- failure to provide the bankruptcy trustee with all requested documentation, such as tax returns, mortgage documents, bank records and paystubs
- failure to appear at a court hearing, such as the 341 Meeting of Creditors or the Confirmation Hearing;
- failure to complete the required credit counseling (although if you fail to complete the post-petition counseling, the court may close your case without a discharge rather than dismiss it)
- failure to make Chapter 13 plan payments, or
- failure to pay the full filing fee.
What to Do if Your Bankruptcy Is Dismissed Without PrejudiceIf your bankruptcy case has been dismissed without prejudice, you can correct the problem that caused the dismissal and file a new case. It is important to note, however, that refiling a bankruptcy within a year after a dismissal reduces the length of the automatic stay to 30 days, and more than one previous dismissal may mean no automatic stay at all. If you refile a dismissed bankruptcy case, you must file a motion with the court to extend the automatic stay and protect your assets from creditors. For more information about the automatic stay in bankruptcy, see How the Automatic Stay Protects Bankruptcy Filers. Examples.
- If your case was dismissed because you failed to submit all forms, you can simply refile your case and include all the correct paperwork.
- If your case was dismissed because you were ineligible for that Chapter of bankruptcy, you can review your situation with your attorney to file bankruptcy under a different chapter if you are able.
- If your case was dismissed because you failed to make your Chapter 13 plan payments, you can refile the case and propose a new Chapter 13 plan that is more feasible.
- If your case was closed without a discharge because you failed to complete the post-bankruptcy credit counseling and file the certificate, you can complete the counseling and request that the court reopen your case to file the certificate. You will need to file a motion to reopen the case and pay the associated fees.