While a lot of thought and planning normally accompanies the decision to file for bankruptcy, you may ultimately decide you do not want to continue making the payments on your Chapter 13 plan. Maybe your plan payments are higher than you anticipated, or perhaps a new job will allow you to pay your debts without the oversight of the bankruptcy court. Regardless of your reasons, if you filed your bankruptcy under Chapter 13, obtaining a dismissal is a fairly straightforward process.
Obtain a "Debtor's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal of Chapter 13 Case," or similarly titled, form to request dismissal of your case. Using a pre-formatted form will help streamline your efforts and ensure you provide all of the relevant information to the court. Check to see whether one is available on your bankruptcy court’s website or ask the bankruptcy clerk of court whether it can provide one.
Read More: What is a Notice of Dismissal of Bankruptcy?
Make any edits necessary to reflect the jurisdiction in which you filed. For example, if you are using a form from another bankruptcy court, replace any references to that jurisdiction with the jurisdiction in which you filed and remove references to local rules. This may require retyping the form using a word processing program.
Complete the caption, or heading, of your dismissal request form. You will normally be asked to state your name and address, case number and case name. If you are unsure about any of this information, previous orders issued by the court in your case will be a helpful guide.
Provide the relevant substantive information. In accordance with federal bankruptcy law, you need to state whether your Chapter 13 bankruptcy was converted from a Chapter 7 and whether you have made any agreements with any of your creditors regarding your dismissal. You may also be asked to give your reasons for dismissal. However, bankruptcy law does not require good cause for dismissal so keep your explanation simple if asked.
Sign the completed dismissal request form and make sure any co-debtor, such as your spouse, does the same.
File your request for dismissal with the clerk of the bankruptcy court. Before taking this step, however, call the clerk of court to make sure that there are no hearings scheduled in your case and that you do not need to send notice of your dismissal request to additional parties.
If your Chapter 13 was converted from a Chapter 7, it may not be possible to dismiss your case.
Sometimes a creditor will file a motion asking the court to be released from the prohibitions of the "automatic stay." In other words, the creditor wants to collect the debt from you even during your bankruptcy. If your case is dismissed while such a motion for relief from the stay is pending, you will not be able to refile for bankruptcy for 180 days.
Dismissing your bankruptcy will not remove the bankruptcy filing from your credit report.
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California: Debtor's Motion for Voluntary Dismissal of Chapter 13 Case
- Bankruptcy Law Network: Can I Dismiss My Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Case?
- BetterBankruptcy.com: Can a Voluntarily Dismissed Chapter 13 Be Removed From Credit Reports?
- Legal Information Institute: 11 USC 1307 -- Conversion or Dismissal
Seamus Flaherty is a lawyer experienced in the areas of international trade, commercial litigation, foreclosure defense and bankruptcy. He has clerked for federal judges at the trial, appellate and administrative levels, and run a solo practice. Flaherty is licensed in New York, Florida and several federal jurisdictions.