The trustee has filed a motion to dismiss my Chapter 13 case. What are my options?

If you are in a Chapter 13 plan and are unable to keep the payments current, the Trustee, or one of your creditors, may file a motion to dismiss the case. If this happens, you must move quickly to correct the situation.

In some districts, you must file a written response to the motion, or it will simply be granted without a hearing. In other districts, the motion is always set down for a hearing. If a response is required, make sure that your attorney files one promptly. If not, you may want to consider filing a response yourself.

It is often possible to save a plan that has fallen into arrears. You may be able to propose a cure of the delinquency by making additional payments, or through a lump sum payment from future income such as a tax refund. You may be able to negotiate a “Strict Compliance Order” that lets the plan continue as long as all future payments are made timely. Or, you may be able to modify the plan to provide for a lower payment. All of these possibilities should be discussed with your attorney, or in the alternative, with the Trustee’s attorney.

If it is not possible to save the plan, you may want to consider converting your case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy rather than letting it be dismissed. This can sometimes be less expensive than having the case dismissed and then filing a new Chapter 7 case.

If the case is dismissed, you may be able to file a new Chapter 13 case, if you can show that the new plan is feasible. Of course, all payments under the new plan will have to be paid in a timely fashion, or you will soon be facing another dismissal. Repeated dismissals can result in an order that prevents you from filing for a period of time.

It is critical that you get qualified, experienced help when you consider filing, and when you are already in, a bankruptcy case. If your attorney is unresponsive, it may be time to seek new counsel, particularly if your case is dismissed and you need to refile.

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