When you file for bankruptcy in Ohio, you want your debts to be discharged — eliminated — so that you can receive a fresh financial start. However, there are times when situations change and you no longer wish to continue with the bankruptcy, or you made mistakes or have problems and your case winds up being dismissed and ended without discharge by the court.

If your bankruptcy case is dismissed, it will still appear on your credit report. Bankruptcy will typically stay on your credit report for 7-10 years. If you refile, both bankruptcy cases will appear on your credit report.

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 you won’t wind up with a bankruptcy that is dismissed, unless you want it to be.

Why Bankruptcies Are Dismissed

Bankruptcies are dismissed for three main reasons — voluntary dismissal, dismissal for cause, and dismissal for bad faith or abuse.

Voluntary Dismissal

You may voluntarily ask the bankruptcy court to dismiss your bankruptcy case for a variety of reasons.  For example, you may unexpectedly receive money and want to use it to improve your credit. This is usually not a good idea; bankruptcy dismissals may worsen your credit score because the filing remains on your credit reports. It is usually better to get the discharge of bankruptcy and then discuss with your bankruptcy attorney whether you can keep the money received.

If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would need to show cause for voluntary dismissal, and the courts would decide whether or not to grant it. If you have filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you have the right to ask for dismissal at any time.

Asking for a dismissal in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing is a lot simpler than asking for one in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing.

In general, the courts will look at the overall benefit of dismissal to both debtors and creditors.  In making its decision as to whether to grant a voluntary dismissal, the courts will consider factors such as whether:

  • all creditors consent or there is some objection
  • you are acting in good faith
  • the dismissal would result in a prejudicial delay in payment or a reordering of priorities
  • there is another way to handle the payment of claims

Even though you started the process, that doesn’t mean it is easy for you to end the process. Once bankruptcy proceedings have begun, it is usually easier to complete them than it is to get them dismissed, even if you have good reasons for dismissal.

Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process. Even under the best of conditions, it involves a legal process that is difficult to navigate and lasts for several months to several years, depending on which chapter you file. An early dismissal can be helpful or devastating, depending on your circumstances. Contact Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer at 614-228-4435 (Columbus), 937-222-7472 (Dayton), or 877-654-5297 (Cincinnati) to better understand this legal process.

Dismissal for Cause

Once you have filed for bankruptcy, you must comply with all Ohio bankruptcy court orders or your case will be dismissed. Cases under all chapters of bankruptcy can be dismissed for cause if you do not meet specific requirements for properly filling out forms, producing required documents, and meeting timetables. Other major reasons for dismissal include:

  • Failing to meet eligibility requirements. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must not make more money than allowed 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 pay court filing fees. You must pay a filing fee to start a bankruptcy case or obtain a court-approved fee waiver or an installment plan if you can’t afford the fee.
  • 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.
  • Not appearing at the creditors’ meeting. In both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must attend a meeting of creditors with your attorney in front of the bankruptcy trustee.
  • 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.

These are the types of mistakes that are easy to make if you are trying to file for bankruptcy on your own. They involve bureaucracy that the average layperson isn’t familiar with. The best way to avoid making these types of mistakes is to get help from an experienced Ohio bankruptcy attorney from Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer. Our legal team is familiar with the process and will make sure you don’t make easily avoidable errors that will result in a judge dismissing your bankruptcy protection.

If you fail to complete every obligation placed upon you by the bankruptcy process, a judge will dismiss your case whether you want them to or not.

Dismissal for Bad Faith, Fraud and Abuse

Your case may be dismissed if you show bad faith by not cooperating with the court or performing required duties, or if your case does not comply with law.  If you are found to be committing bankruptcy fraud in any way, such as misrepresenting or not disclosing all of your income, debts, and assets, your case will be dismissed. In addition, you may be subject to criminal or civil penalties, including fines, a ban on future bankruptcy filings, and jail.

If your dismissal was based on fraud, the court will likely bar you from getting a bankruptcy discharge again for a certain period. In some cases of bad faith, the court may dismiss a case with prejudice, preventing the discharge of debts in the dismissed case in a later bankruptcy.  In addition, the court is also able to dismiss a case on its own motion if it believes that the debtor is abusing the process.

The court has tools to punish any type of fraud, abuse, or intentional non-cooperation. At a minimum, your bankruptcy case will be dismissed, and you will likely face criminal charges as well.

What if My Case Is Dismissed?

Consequences of a Bankruptcy Dismissal

If your case is dismissed, you may usually start over by refiling for bankruptcy. You will have to know the reasons for dismissal and then rectify all the errors that led to it. Unless you requested a dismissal, determining why your case was dismissed may be difficult. Judicial rulings are often difficult to understand for people who don’t have legal training. An experienced bankruptcy attorney from Fesenmyer Cousino Weinzimmer can read the ruling, decipher the reasons, and determine how you can best correct the errors.

However, this assumes that the reason was not for fraud. If your case was dismissed for fraud, you will likely not be allowed to file again for a set time or be permanently prevented from getting bankruptcy protection for the debts that you were previously attempting to get discharged.

If you are refiling for Chapter 13, you will have to qualify again. If you refile for Chapter 7 after a previous Chapter 13 case was dismissed, you may not be able to keep the secured property you would have been able to keep under Chapter 13.

Contact Us to Get Help with Bankruptcy Cases in Ohio

Bankruptcy laws are complicated, and even a small mistake could result in an involuntary 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. With the right assistance, you can avoid these problems and keep your bankruptcy on track.

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 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.

When you delay talking to a bankruptcy attorney, all you do is worsen your situation. Don’t wait. Contact 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 a free consultation so we can determine what debt relief solutions will work best for you.

Attorney Tom Fesenmyer

Attorney Thomas M. Fesenmyer (Tom) is dedicated to helping his clients solve their financial issues in a timely and cost-effective manner. Tom has personally filed several thousand cases and has the expertise to achieve immediate results for his clients, including stopping Foreclosures, Repossessions, Wage Garnishments, Law Suits, Utility Shut-offs, Creditor Harassment, Bank Attachments, and Pay-Day Loans. Tom’s goal for all of his clients is asset protection and debt elimination.[ Attorney Bio ]

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