If your Chapter 7 bankruptcy case is dismissed, it means that the court has not granted you a discharge from your debts. Your creditors are once again free to pursue you to collect on what you owe them. To get the court's protection, you might be considering refiling immediately. However, the circumstances surrounding your dismissal may prevent you from filing right away, or even at all.
Typically, the court will allow you to refile right away if your dismissal was due to paperwork errors on your part. For example, if you forgot to get the required credit counseling before you filed, or if you failed to include one of your bankruptcy schedules with your petition, your can file as soon as your case gets dismissed. You will have to pay a new filing fee if you refile your bankruptcy petition.
After 180 Days
In more serious cases, the court will require you to wait 180 days before you can refile your Chapter 7 case. If you violated a court order or filed a petition that the court described as fraudulent or abusive, you cannot file again for 180 days. You will also have to wait 180 days if you filed a voluntary dismissal after one of your creditors requested the court to lift the automatic stay, which otherwise prevents creditors from pursuing collections. Mortgage lenders attempting to foreclose will often request a lifting of the automatic stay.
Motion to Reinstate
If you act quickly, you may be able to reinstate your bankruptcy case rather than having to refile it. If your case was dismissed due to fraud or for one of the other 180-day restrictions, you cannot reinstate your case. However, if you simply missed a payment or forgot a form, you may be able to reinstate your case if you file a Motion to Reinstate with the court no more than 10 days after your dismissal. Every bankruptcy court has its own rules as to reinstatement, so you should contact your local bankruptcy clerk for the correct paperwork if you intend to reinstate rather than refile. The major advantage of reinstatement is that you don't have to pay an additional filing fee.
When you file bankruptcy, the automatic stay prevents your creditors from trying to collect on your outstanding debts until your case is over. To prevent unscrupulous debtors from constantly filing bankruptcy petitions just to get the protection of the automatic stay, the court will limit the duration of the stay to just 30 days if you refile a dismissed case. If you have two or more dismissals in one year, the court will remove the protection of the automatic stay altogether.
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