Bankruptcy Case: Dismissed Without Prejudice

If the court dismisses your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case without prejudice, you can refile your case right away.

If the court dismisses your bankruptcy case without prejudice, you can file another bankruptcy case—right away, even. But you’ll typically have to fix your original mistakes before your second case is successful. Also, if you want to keep creditors at bay, you should plan to file a motion to extend or impose the automatic stay in your new case.

Read on to learn more about what happens if the court dismisses your case without prejudice and how the dismissal can affect the automatic stay in your next bankruptcy filing.

For more information about what to do if the court dismisses your bankruptcy, see When Your Bankruptcy Case Is Dismissed.

What “Dismissing Your Bankruptcy Case Without Prejudice” Means

When you file for bankruptcy relief, you must satisfy certain requirements to complete your case and obtain a discharge. If you don’t complete all the necessary steps, the court can dismiss your case with or without prejudice.

While it can be frustrating to have your bankruptcy case dismissed, a dismissal without prejudice is much better than one with prejudice. If the court dismisses your bankruptcy without prejudice, it means that you can immediately file another bankruptcy case (as long as you are otherwise eligible). Luckily, unless you abuse the bankruptcy process or willfully disobey court orders, most bankruptcy dismissals are without prejudice.

Common Reasons the Court Might Dismiss Your Bankruptcy Without Prejudice

In most cases, if you make a procedural mistake (and aren’t trying to abuse the bankruptcy system), the court will dismiss your bankruptcy without prejudice. Except in rare circumstances, the court will typically dismiss your case without prejudice if you:

To learn more about why the court might dismiss your bankruptcy, see Reasons the Trustee or Court Might Dismiss Your Bankruptcy Case.

You Won’t Have the Same Protection From Creditors If You Refile

When you file for bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect that prohibits most creditors from starting or continuing collection activities. Bankruptcy laws impose certain limits on the automatic stay if you file multiple bankruptcy cases. The rules discourage debtors from filing for bankruptcy simply to delay or hinder their creditors.

Here’s how it works.

If the court dismisses your bankruptcy case and you file another case within one year, the automatic stay in your new bankruptcy will expire 30 days after your filing date. If you had two or more pending bankruptcies that the court dismissed within the past year, you wouldn’t get any automatic stay benefit if you refile.

However, it’s possible to get the court to put the stay in place. If you have a good reason for the new filing—or why the previous filings occurred—then you can file a motion with the court asking for the automatic stay. The court will grant your motion if you prove that you filed the case in good faith.

For more information on how the automatic stay works and how to file a motion to extend or impose the stay, see Bankruptcy’s Automatic Stay.

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