5 Tips to Avoid Bankruptcy Dismissal

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Written by Attorney Jonathan Petts.  
Updated July 22, 2020

Summary

Avoid a Chapter 7 bankruptcy dismissal so that you can discharge all of your debts by following these directions.

Whether you are in the processes of preparing your bankruptcy petition or have already filed, you want to make sure your bankruptcy is not dismissed by the Court. There are many common pitfalls that may not be obvious to someone filing for bankruptcy without an attorney. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help avoid a bankruptcy dismissal.

Making sure you file for bankruptcy correctly is important in order to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed. Bankruptcy dismissal can be stressful, it will mean that the court will lift any automatic stays you got when you first filed for bankruptcy and may make it harder to file for bankruptcy in the future. That means your creditors will be able to resume any collection actions they have against including things like utility shut offs, foreclosure, or even eviction.

Additionally, getting your bankruptcy dismissed can be costly. If you have to refile for bankruptcy you will likely have to pay another filing fee to the Court. Even worse, depending on why the Court dismisses your bankruptcy you may not be able to refile at all. That could leave you on the hook for the entirety of your debt.

There is a lot you can do to make sure you avoid bankruptcy dismissal. It is better to do your bankruptcy right the first time and avoid dismissal than having to refile. In this article, you will find five tips in order to avoid getting your bankruptcy dismissed.

1. Get organized and get prepared

Preparation is half the battle when it comes to avoiding having your bankruptcy dismissed. Most bankruptcies are dismissed because people are missing required documents or fail to file paperwork promptly with the Court. You can help avoid getting your bankruptcy dismissed by making sure you are organized before you start preparing your bankruptcy petition.

One thing you can do to help yourself prepare is check out various online resources to help you make sure you get everything you need in order to file for bankruptcy. There are numerous websites with information about bankruptcy that can help you make sure you get all the information you need to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed. Feel free to check out Upsolve’s Learning Center which has all sorts of information about filing for bankruptcy.

There are also free online resources available from bankruptcy courts that can help you figure out what documents you will need to file to avoid getting your bankruptcy dismissed. Many courts also provide checklists that can help you figure out exactly what kinds of things you will need to prepare in order to successfully file for bankruptcy.

One thing to keep in mind is that the rules that govern how bankruptcy works may vary depending on where you live. You should spend some time checking to see how bankruptcy works where you live in order to make sure you follow the correct procedure.

After you check out those online resources you should try to organize your own financial situation. You should make a list of all your creditors as well as all the property that you own. Having this information prepared before your start will make it easier if you need it later on in the bankruptcy process.

Finally, you should decide how you want to file for bankruptcy. Doing some research before you start filing for bankruptcy can help you decide if you want to file with an attorney, use commercial bankruptcy software, or do it yourself. Knowing a little bit about how bankruptcy works before you start can help you ensure you avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed.

Remember, the more organized you are at the start of the process the easier time you will have later on. Getting organized early will help you if you have to respond to tight court deadlines later on and can help you avoid stress later on in the process.

Get prepared, get organized, avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed.

2. Make sure you have all the right financial forms

The next thing you should do to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed is make sure you have all the right financial forms you need before you file for bankruptcy. One of the most common reasons courts dismiss bankruptcy petitions is because people fail to provide the court with all the required information. You can avoid this by making sure you have all the right financial forms in order before you file for bankruptcy.

Some of the financial documents you need may take some time to get. Remember, courts can have strict deadlines that if you miss may lead to having your bankruptcy dismissed. Make sure to start gathering the documents you need early so you can ensure that you meet all the required court deadlines.

Most courts require that you provide the last two years of your tax returns in order to file for bankruptcy. You should check to see if you have those documents already before you file for bankruptcy. If you do not, then you will need to budget the time needed in order to get them to help avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed.

Next, you will have to provide information about your income. For instance, you may have to provide pay stubs for the past few months or some other evidence of your income. If you have to get this information from your employer, keep in mind that it may take some time for them to compile it for you.

Finally, you will have to provide information about your monthly expenses as well as any property you own. You should keep track of what your expenditures are on any given month. This is important because the Court will want to see how you are spending when determining how to resolve your bankruptcy petition.

You will need to provide a list of any valuable property that you own to the Court. If you do not then the Court will dismiss your bankruptcy petition. Make sure to include any investments you have, as well as vehicles, homes, or anything else you may have of value.

Keep in mind that you will also need to provide any additional information the Court requests to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed. Remember, if the Court requires you to provide more then you should make sure to do so on time. You may have to provide supplemental documents depending on the specific circumstances of your bankruptcy case.

Ensure you have the right forms in order before you file in order to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed.

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3. Complete all of the required education courses

In order to successfully file for bankruptcy you will need to take two kinds of education courses. Before you file for bankruptcy you will need to take a credit counseling course form an approved provider. After you file for bankruptcy you will need to take a debtor education course which will teach you about financial management.

If you do not take these courses then your bankruptcy will be dismissed.

Keep the following in mind when making sure that you complete the correct courses.

You will have to take the credit counseling course form a court approved provider. Most courts will have information on approved credit counseling courses on their website. If you take a credit counseling course from a non-approved provider then the court will likely dismiss your bankruptcy.

The credit counseling course is designed to inform you about alternatives to bankruptcy such as negotiating with your creditors. Courts require you to take this course before you file for bankruptcy so you can be better informed about your options. Use this information to decide if filing for bankruptcy is right for you, and if it is, to help avoid getting your bankruptcy dismissed.

After you take the course you will likely have to fill out a form and file it with the Court to show that you have successfully taken the course. Make sure to do this so that the Court knows you have taken the course. Remember, if the Court does not know you have taken the course then they will probably dismiss your bankruptcy petition.

Furthermore, if you miss the deadline to submit the required forms you may have to refile for bankruptcy and repay the filing fee. That can be expensive. Avoid having to refile by meeting the required deadlines.

After you file for bankruptcy you will have to take a debtor education course. This course is designed to help you stay financially healthy after your bankruptcy. It will teach you financial skills like budgeting to help improve your ability to manage your finances.

Remember, avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed by making sure to complete all the required bankruptcy courses.

4. Always meet filing and other Court deadlines

You should always make sure to meet whatever deadlines the Court gives you. A common reasons for bankruptcies to be dismissed is because people fail to file the correct documents within the Court imposed deadline. You can avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed by making sure to always file the correct documents on time.

There may be different deadlines for different aspects of the bankruptcy process. For instance, it is a common requirement that you have to file a form showing you completed your credit counseling within 45 days of completing the course. You should make sure to check for all the various deadlines and make sure to meet them.

Not only do you want to avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed, you also want to avoid wasting your own time. If you spend the time collecting documents or taking courses make sure it counts. Don’t risk having to retake them or having to refile by missing Court deadlines.

5. Make sure to respond to your creditors arguments

Finally, if your creditors challenge aspects of your bankruptcy petition make sure to respond to the court. If you don’t respond to those challenges then your creditors will win automatically. Avoid having your bankruptcy dismissed by making sure to dispute relevant challenges to your bankruptcy petition.

For instance, when you file for bankruptcy you will be given an automatic stay on ongoing collection proceedings against you. However, your creditors can challenge the automatic stay by making a motion to the Court. This gives you an opportunity to respond, but if you do not then that may mean that the Court will lift the automatic stay and allow collection actions against you to resume.

Do you want more help avoiding having your bankruptcy dismissed?

If you are filing for bankruptcy without an attorney you can get more bankruptcy information from Upsolve and learn about our mission. We are a non-profit organization that helps low-income individuals and families experiencing a financial crisis get a fresh start through Chapter 7 bankruptcy at no cost.

Watch past users who are just like you explain how it works, and join the millions of others who have gotten a second chance with bankruptcy. Upsolve has helped people like you avoid the common pitfalls that lead to getting your bankruptcy dismissed. Upsolve will help guide you through filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to help ensure that your bankruptcy is successful.

We do not expect you to understand bankruptcy laws or bankruptcy rules. We provide the bankruptcy information you need to file Chapter 7 without an attorney. You can do this! You can get rid of your debts and stop creditor harassment by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

Please let us help you get out of debt. If you are ready to take the first step to a debt-free life, we encourage you to request additional bankruptcy information from Upsolve. It is as easy as entering your email address and clicking a button. Do not let debt continue to keep you up at night. Get rid of that debt by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

About the author

Attorney Jonathan Petts
Jonathan Petts has over 10 years of experience in bankruptcy and is co-founder and Board Chair of Upsolve. Attorney Petts has an LLM in Bankruptcy from St. John's University, clerked for two federal bankruptcy judges, and worked at two top New York City law firms specializing in... read more

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