Can You Reopen a Bankruptcy Chapter 7?

By Kevin Owen

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your consumer debts are discharged by a court order within approximately six months from the filing of your petition. This discharge is important because it legally wipes away any claims that creditors have that you owe money on a debt so long as you identified the debt as part of your bankruptcy case. However, if you failed to identify a creditor as part of your case, you may be able to reopen the case under certain circumstances.

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most of your consumer debts are discharged by a court order within approximately six months from the filing of your petition. This discharge is important because it legally wipes away any claims that creditors have that you owe money on a debt so long as you identified the debt as part of your bankruptcy case. However, if you failed to identify a creditor as part of your case, you may be able to reopen the case under certain circumstances.

Motion to Reopen

Under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a closed bankruptcy case may be reopened at the request of the debtor, "other party in interest," including a creditor, or at the request of the trustee. To reopen a case after a discharge is granted, a written motion must be filed with the bankruptcy court stating the reasons for reopening the case. The court also requires the person who files the request to reopen to also pay a court filing fee.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More

Forgotten Debts

A primary reason you may want to reopen your bankruptcy after you obtained a Chapter 7 discharge is because you forgot to list a debt in your bankruptcy disclosures. If you did not have any assets sold off from your estate to pay creditors, the court is likely to allow you to reopen your bankruptcy to include omitted debts. However, if some of your assets were used to pay a portion of your debt to some creditors, then reopening your case to discharge newly remembered debts may be difficult.

Creditor Injunction Violations

Another reason you may wish to reopen a closed bankruptcy is to file a lawsuit against a creditor if it violates the court injunction that prohibits it from trying to collect a debt that was discharged in your bankruptcy. If the court discharges the debt, it is unlawful for the lender to make any attempts to get you to pay the debt. If a creditor begins harassing you to repay any debts that were discharged, you have the right to reopen your bankruptcy case in order to enforce the court-ordered injunction and seek money damages from the creditor.

Fraud

Your bankruptcy may be reopened by the trustee or your creditors if there is evidence that you were fraudulent in your bankruptcy filings or untruthful in your testimony during the meeting with the trustee and creditors. If the trustee learns that you attempted to hide assets from him, the court could reopen your case, seize the asset, revoke your discharge of indebtedness, impose civil fines and refer you for criminal prosecution.

Get a free, confidential bankruptcy evaluation. Learn More
How to Amend a Discharged Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

References

Resources

Related articles

What Happens to an Unsecured Loan After Chapter 13 Has Been Dismissed?

When you file for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 13, you are asking a federal court for protection from your creditors. The court issues an automatic stay, meaning your creditors must stop all collection efforts and lawsuits against you. A trustee then draws up a repayment plan, which schedules monthly payments that will repay a portion of your unsecured debts. If you fail to meet the payments, the court may dismiss the case — and there will be important consequences for those unsecured debts.

Schedule F Bankruptcy Discharge

Bankruptcy means a fresh start – a court order protects you from collections and lawsuits, and eventually, the court discharges (cancels) some of your debts. You must report your assets and liabilities, and you will be required to sell your non-exempt property to repay creditors (in Chapter 7) or set up a repayment schedule (in Chapter 13). As your bankruptcy case begins, you'll complete a Schedule F, and it's vital to know the difference between a secured and unsecured debt when preparing this form.

Define Bankruptcy Terminated

If you file for bankruptcy protection from creditors, a federal court gains jurisdiction over your assets, debts and financial affairs. The court has the authority to eliminate dischargeable debts, liquidate your assets or set up a repayment schedule (as in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing). However, the court also has the authority to dismiss or terminate the case, either on your motion or on its own initiative.

Related articles

Can Creditors Attempt to Get Money After a Discharge?

When you file a petition for bankruptcy, you are asking a federal court for protection from creditors and time to work ...

Are You Liable for a Debt Not Included in a Bankruptcy?

It's not uncommon for a person who files a petition for bankruptcy to overlook a debt he owes, perhaps to a credit card ...

Do I Have to Reopen an Asset Chapter 7 for an Unlisted Creditor?

Bankruptcy can give you a fresh start financially by erasing certain debts, but federal bankruptcy law gives certain ...

What Happens If I Don't Pay My Chapter 7 Overages?

Under Chapter 7 bankruptcy, your assets are valued by a court-appointed trustee and sold to pay your creditors. You are ...

Browse by category