- You have filed too many chapter 13 cases in a short span of time, and
- In a previous chapter 13 case a creditor filed a motion for relief from stay.
Filing too many chapter 13 cases
Some debtors are what the court considers serial filers. This often happens to people who figure out that the automatic stay will stop collection activity, lawsuits and foreclosures. They file without a lawyer, maybe with the best intentions, but they do not know how to follow through. The result of this is that the case gets dismissed by the court. Though they know nothing about completing a chapter 13, they do know that each time they file the pain they are suffering momentarily fades.
Unfortunately the chapter 13 trustee, the court, and the creditors get tired of this abuse of bankruptcy relief. Ultimately one of the dismissals will carry an unimagined consequence. The court will include a bar against refiling for a set period of time, usually 180 days. That is to give the creditors who have repeatedly been denied the chance to obtain the legal relief they have long sought.
Relief from Stay
A chapter 13 case is a voluntary proceeding. You can get in voluntarily and you can get out voluntarily. You can voluntarily dismiss your case. Normally you can refile right after the dismissal. Unless…you did something while your case was pending to make a secured creditor feel insecure. Maybe you didn’t make your payments as promised, or you let your insurance on the secured asset expire. Then the creditor files to have the debt and the asset stripped of the protection of the automatic stay. This is called a motion for relief from stay. Then they can foreclose on the house, or repo the car.
If you voluntarily dismiss after a motion for relief from stay has been filed in your case, there is a bar against filing another chapter 13 case of 180 days. Again that is to give the creditor time to proceed against the collateral.
After filing chapter 7
You can file a chapter 13 anytime after filing a chapter 7 case. However, if you want, or need, a discharge in the chapter 13, like if you want to strip a mortgage, there is a four year look back from filing date of your chapter 7 to the filing a date of your chapter 13. If you don’t care about, or need a chapter 13 discharge then you can file again in under 4 years. Bankruptcy lawyers call this a chapter 20.
Who wouldn’t care about a chapter 13 discharge? If you discharged your unsecured debt already, but need to pay off non-dischargeable tax debt, if you want to bring your mortgage current, or you if you need to stop a repo of a vehicle a discharge would not matter. In each case, the IRS or the lender is stayed from taking any action against you or your property while the chapter 13 is pending. Complete the plan and the debt is paid, or the mortgage is again current and you can then move through life without the pressure of financial ruin.