The Difference Between a Bankruptcy “Dismissal” and “Discharge”

If you file for bankruptcy in Ohio, there is a big difference whether your case ends with a discharge or ends with a dismissal.  Bankruptcy terms and concepts can be confusing, but the goal of bankruptcy is always the same – getting a discharge that will give you a fresh financial start by eliminating debts that have become overwhelming.

Unfortunately, if you make mistakes that lead to a dismissal, your case will be dismissed by the court and ended without a discharge being given.  Your creditors can immediately go back to trying to collect from you and proceed with attaching your property, garnishing your wages, and other lawful means of collection.  You will not get debt relief, and you might have to start the entire filing process over again.

The skilled and seasoned Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer understand that financial problems can happen to even the most well-intentioned people.  We offer a free initial consultation to evaluate your financial situation to see if bankruptcy is your best option.  We look at your income, your debts and your goals and develop a financial recovery plan that’s best for you.  If bankruptcy is the answer, we make sure it is done correctly so your case will not be dismissed.

What Are the Most Common Reasons for Dismissal?

Both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies have specific requirements, forms you need to fill out, and rules and timelines that you must meet both before you file for bankruptcy protection and after the case has been evaluated. If you do not meet these requirements on time, it is ground for dismissal of your case.  The following are common reasons for dismissal:

  • Not complying with bankruptcy requirements. Bankruptcy cases can be dismissed without discharging your debts if you do not comply with Ohio bankruptcy requirements for filing, producing documents, or other administrative matters.
  • Failing to meet eligibility requirements. To be eligible for filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you cannot exceed the maximum under the Ohio “means test” that looks at your income and expenses.  If you cannot pass the means test, your case will be dismissed, but filing for Chapter 13 may still be an option.
  • Failing to file required bankruptcy forms. You must complete and file a packet of required forms with the Ohio bankruptcy court in a timely manner. An attorney can help make sure you do this correctly. You can file a “skeleton” bankruptcy petition to start the process, but if you don’t file the complete set of forms within 14 days, your case will be dismissed.
  • Failing to pay court filing fees. You must pay a filing fee to start a bankruptcy case. If you can’t afford the fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver or an installment plan, if you can get court approval.  If you don’t pay or get a fee waiver, your case will be dismissed.
  • Providing incorrect financial information. You must disclose all of your income, assets, debts, and recent financial transactions to the court. If you fail to do so, leave out information, or make mistakes, the court will dismiss your case.
  • Failing to complete the pre-bankruptcy credit counseling class.You must complete an approved Ohio credit counseling class within the 180 days before your bankruptcy filing and file a certificate stating that you took this class.  If you don’t, your case will be dismissed.
  • Not providing requested documents after filing.Even after your case is underway, you have to meet requirements that could include providing documents such as tax returns, pay stubs and mortgage statements within specified timeframes.  If you don’t provide these on time, your case will be dismissed.
  • Not appearing at the creditors meeting. In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a hearing with your creditors in front of the bankruptcy trustee. If you miss this meeting, it’s possible that you may be given a second chance, but if not, your case will be dismissed.
  • Not making your Chapter 13 plan payments. If you are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must make the agreed-upon payments to the bankruptcy trustee for three to five years. If you get behind in payments, you must make alternative arrangements with the bankruptcy trustee to catch up or your case will be dismissed.
  • Not obeying court orders. Once you have filed for bankruptcy you must comply with all Ohio state court orders or your case will be dismissed.
  • Committing fraud. If you are found to be committing bankruptcy fraud in any way, your case will not only be dismissed by the bankruptcy judge, but you may be subject to criminal or civil penalties, including fines, a ban on future bankruptcy filings, and jail.

What If My Case Is Dismissed Without Discharge?

If your case is dismissed, you may start over by refiling for bankruptcy, unless your case was dismissed because you committed fraud.. You will be required to first rectify all the reasons and problems that led to the dismissal and ensure that you comply with all applicable laws and local rules in the new case.  If a prior case was dismissed within the last year, you may be required to file an additional Motion to extend the bankruptcy stay afford automatically in your initial filing.

Contact Us and Get Help

Bankruptcy laws are complicated, and even a small mistake could cost you the discharge that you want and cause a dismissal of your case.  In addition, a bankruptcy that is not filed properly can leave you stuck with unexpected expenses and debts that are not resolved, or even with charges of fraud.

The experienced bankruptcy lawyers at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer are dedicated to helping you through the maze of personal bankruptcy so you can obtain financial freedom.  A free initial consultation and careful evaluation of your individual financial situation will point you in the right direction and give you the information you need.  We understand what you are going through and will walk you through the process to make sure your case is not dismissed.

Delaying can only worsen your situation, so call the Ohio bankruptcy attorneys at Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer today!  Call one of our conveniently located office branches at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) or email for your free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

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