What does it mean when a case is dismissed? The quick answer is that obviously there is something wrong, but the question really is- what happened and can it be fixed? There could be a dozen things that could have gone wrong that got the case dismissed. It could be something as simple as not submitting the right documents and it very rarely happens with case that I work on, but it does sometimes happen.

You are supposed to submit:

  • pay stubs
  • tax returns
  • bank statements
  • all the schedules
  • disclosures that come with every single bankruptcy

There are certain time periods for when these things are supposed to be submitted when you file the case and if they are not submitted timely or they are not submitted at all, or if they are submitted in an illegible manner, or if they are submitted after 14 days, then the bankruptcy will get dismissed. What that means is that the injunction, the automatic stay that was protecting you, that goes away as well, which means that all the creditors are free to continue:

  • Collecting
  • Garnishing
  • Foreclosing
  • Suing

Also, you can get your case dismissed for not showing up at your creditor's meeting, which is about 5 weeks into the case in Arizona or showing up at the hearing without your driver's license or social security card or showing up but not submitting your documents to the trustee. A lot of times, the trustee will mail you a packet, asking you for documentation, like your tax returns, bank statements, titles, and things like that, and if you don't submit that, then the trustee can dismiss your case for non-cooperation.

It can be reinstated pretty quickly and easily if you fix the defect, so supplying the documents that are missing, or cooperating with the trustee, you can then ask for your case to be put back on the docket. The automatic stay will come back and protect you again, but at that point you might have to go to a court hearing and be in front of a judge and explain what happened, because the trustee might not want to reinstate your case because bankruptcy operates on good faith. They presume you have good faith, but all of a sudden, you don't start producing the paperwork you're required to, the trustee might be questioning whether you are proceeding with the case in good faith, so you might have to go over their heads to the judge and explain what the problem was.

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