If your Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case was dismissed, under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to re-file another case.
Generally, under 11 U.S.C. § 362(c)(3), if a debtor has had one or more prior bankruptcy cases dismissed in the preceding year, the Debtor can re-file another Chapter 13 case and receive the benefit of the automatic stay by demonstrating by clear and convincing evidence that there has been a substantial change in the financial or personal affairs of the Debtor since the dismissal of the prior case or any other reason to conclude that the re-filed case will be successful.
Common examples of changes in the Debtor’s financial affairs that would justify a repeat filing within a year are:
- Loss of a job and subsequent re-hiring;
- Temporary loss of income, i.e. unpaid medical leave and return to work;
- The Debtor has significantly more income at the time of the latter case then at the time of the prior case, such as by obtaining a higher paying job;
- The Debtor is able to substantially reduce expenses in the latter case compared to what they were in the prior case, such as by surrendering property the Debtor attempted to retain in the prior case.
Common examples of changes in the personal affairs that would justify a repeat filing within a year are:
- Substantial unanticipated expenses that are beyond the Debtor’s control (i.e. funeral expenses for a family member, unexpected home repairs or car repairs, unanticipated legal fees);
- Divorce or death of a spouse or other income earning member of a Debtor’s household;
- The Debtor filed a prior case without the assistance of an attorney and was unable to properly prosecute the case, but now has legal representation;
- The Debtor was ineligible to receive a discharge in a prior case, but now is eligible to receive a discharge in the current case.
There are countless other examples, but generally, if the Debtor can articulate a good faith reason for the re-filing, Bankruptcy Courts are fairly sympathetic to the hardships that Debtors face, and often allow the re-filed case to go forward, affording the Debtor a second and even third chance.
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