When you file for bankruptcy, you enter into an agreement with the court: you’ll follow their rules in exchange for relief from your debts and protection from your creditors.
If everything goes according to plan, you should receive a discharge at the end of the case – but what happens if something goes wrong and your case is dismissed?
Not every case is the same, and an attorney can evaluate your situation. Simply fill out the case review form below to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with an attorney near you today.
If you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you likely made (or are making) regular payments in accordance with the three- to five-year plan the court outlined for you.
If you stay on top of your payments, your bankruptcy lawyer makes sure all your documents are filed in a timely manner and you've met any other necessary requirements, at the end of your repayment plan the court should grant you a discharge saying you followed the court’s rules and are now free to start fresh financially.
As long as you made all payments on your plan, any leftover debts will likely be excused by the court.
If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your case likely is moving quickly.
You may have had some of your possessions sold; you may have reaffirmed some of your debts; and your bankruptcy attorney likely made sure you got your paperwork completed on time.
As long as the court found nothing amiss in your case and you have met all the necessary requirements, you should receive a discharge of the debts you included in your bankruptcy. In Chapter 7, this generally means that you get a fresh financial start, and are no longer responsible for many of those unsecured debts.
Why would a court dismiss a bankruptcy case?
A few things might go wrong, including the following:
Bankruptcy fraud: Significant errors in paperwork, concealment of property and last-minute credit charges are some examples of things than may be considered fraudulent by the bankruptcy court. Because bankruptcy fraud is a federal crime, it can come with significant fines and even jail time.
Missed payments: The court’s protection in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy depends on you upholding your end of the bargain by making regular payments when they come due. Missing a payment could lift the court’s protection (including the automatic stay), and bring your creditors back to your door.
Missed deadlines: As you may know, bankruptcy cases involve serious paperwork. Forgetting to file a form or filing the wrong form could lead a court to dismiss your case. This is one reason why working with a bankruptcy lawyer can be very helpful.
The bottom line here is that you want your case to be discharged and you don’t want it to be dismissed.
Don’t risk making a mistake that could jeopardize your chance at the court’s protection and a fresh financial start. If you're thinking about bankruptcy, it may help to get in touch with a bankruptcy attorney:
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