What Happens When the Court Dismisses a Bankruptcy Case Without Prejudice?

If your bankruptcy is dismissed without prejudice, you can refile immediately.

Updated by , Attorney · University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law

Filing for bankruptcy relief doesn't guarantee a discharge—the order that wipes out qualifying debt. If you don't follow the bankruptcy laws or procedures in your jurisdiction, the court might dismiss your case. Luckily, most dismissals are without prejudice, and you can immediately refile your case.

Read on to learn what happens when the court dismisses a bankruptcy case without prejudice.

Understanding Dismissals With and Without Prejudice

When the court dismisses a case without prejudice, you can file another bankruptcy matter right away instead of being required to wait. You can also discharge all qualifying debts in the next case. This type of dismissal usually occurs because of a procedural mistake, such as a failure to file the correct forms, not as a result of unethical behavior.

By contrast, a dismissal with prejudice will prevent you from filing another bankruptcy for a specific period, or forever prohibit you from discharging any of the debts existing at the time of your first filing. The court will dismiss a case with prejudice if you:

  • try to take advantage of bankruptcy by hiding assets
  • use the automatic stay to buy time without intending to complete bankruptcy, or
  • abuse the bankruptcy system in some other way.

Learn more in What Happens If the Court Dismisses a Bankruptcy Case With Prejudice?

Common Reasons for a Dismissal Without Prejudice

After filing your case, you must comply with the bankruptcy rules and procedures. The court dismisses most matters because of the failure of debtors to:

  • file the correct forms with the court
  • submit supporting documentation to the bankruptcy trustee
  • attend the meeting of creditors
  • complete a debtor education (financial management) course
  • make timely plan payments in a Chapter 13 case, or
  • fail to meet any other deadlines or requirements.

Bankruptcy Dismissal and the Automatic Stay

In bankruptcy, the automatic stay protects the filer from almost all creditor collection activities. It stops them in their tracks.

In most cases, the stay remains in place throughout the bankruptcy matter. However, if the court dismisses your case, your creditors can come after you to collect their debts once again. Mostly, you're in the same position you were in before filing.

Also, immediately filing another bankruptcy will limit your automatic stay in the new case. Here's how.

  • If you refile your case within one year after dismissal, the automatic stay will be limited to 30 days.
  • If you had two or more bankruptcies dismissed within the year before you filed the most recent case, the automatic stay wouldn't be in effect at all.

In either situation, you can file a motion to extend or impose the automatic stay in your new bankruptcy. You'll need to be prepared to explain to the court the need for multiple cases.

Consult With a Bankruptcy Lawyer

If the court dismissed your case without prejudice, it's reasonably clear that you ran into a problem in the previous matter. A bankruptcy attorney can help you fix the issue, as well as file a motion asking the court to grant or extend the automatic stay's protection against creditors.

Get Professional Help
Get debt relief now.
We've helped 205 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you