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May 2012

Bankruptcy Dismissed: Is that a bad thing?

Posted by / in Virginia Bankruptcy / 17 comments

“Angie” filed a bankruptcy a couple years ago with some other lawyer.  Her bankruptcy was “dismissed.”  She emailed me yesterday, looking for a lawyer she could “trust.”

“I filed two years ago and my lawyer filed too early from my one years ago and it was dismissed. I paid alot and didn’t get my bankruptcy. Trust and money are issues. Please Advise.” –Angie.

There are two ways bankruptcies end up–and the words look a lot a like.  “Discharged” means the bankruptcy is approved.  “Dismissed” means it’s thrown out.

So, how often are bankruptcies “dismissed?”

I took a quick look at how many have been dismissed here in Alexandria VA in the first four months of the year.  Here’s what I found out.

People who filed on their own–“pro se” is lawyer-Latin for “on your own”–had 175 bankruptcies dismissed.  That’s a big number.   If you look here, you can see that 243 people filed bankruptcy on their own during that same time.  So there were 72 dismissals for every hundred cases filed “pro se.”  A dismissal rate of 72%.    That gives you an idea that most people who try to do bankruptcy without a lawyer, end up failing.

Next, you see 70 cases were dismissed for lawyer Nathan Fisher.  Is that bad?  Well, consider that Nathan Fisher is the busiest bankruptcy lawyer in Northern Virginia.  He filed 361 cases and had 70 dismissed.  That’s a dismissal rate of 19%.  Way lower than people who did it on their own.

Virginia bankruptcy lawyer Robert Weed

I’m the second busiest bankruptcy lawyer in Northern Virginia. January – April 2012, I filed 202 cases, and had 8 cases dismissed.

I’m the second busiest bankruptcy lawyer in Northern Virginia.  January – April 2012, I filed 202 cases, and had 8 cases dismissed.  That’s a dismissal rate of 4%.  That’s way, way lower.

Is dismissal always a bad thing?

Sometimes you want your bankruptcy dismissed.

Here one example.   “Al” filed bankruptcy with me on February 3, 2012.  On February 6, he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.  Even with insurance, his deductible is over seven thousand dollars!

Fortunately for “Al,” he was too sick to make it to his bankruptcy hearing–and his case was dismissed.

Now, he can come back and file again–and his new bankruptcy covers those hospital bills.

Here’s a second example of wanting a bankruptcy dismissed.  “Erin” files Chapter 13 bankruptcy–a payment plan.   Her only debts are the first and second mortgages on her house, and student loans.  She’s current on the second, six months behind on the first.  After she files the Chapter 13, the first mortgage gives her a loan mod, and puts the late payments on the end.  “Erin” then is happy to have her case dismissed; there’s no need for her to stay in bankruptcy.

I can think of other examples–some I don’t want to put in writing–of why you sometimes want your bankruptcy dismissed.  So a dismissal is not always a bad thing.  

Is dismissal always a good thing?

Well, no.  Most people, like “Angie” in my example, file bankruptcy because they need a discharge.   And when their case is dismissed, they are upset.  Like “Angie”, those people paid a lot of money and didn’t get their bankruptcy discharge.  Usually, when a bankruptcy is dismissed, that’s not what the plan was when the bankruptcy started.

UPDATED:  How Do different Lawyers Stack Up?

Here’s a summary of the Top Five lawyers and “pro se” filers in Alexandria.  It’s updated for the first ten months of 2012.

Nathan Fisher       Filed  833    Dismissed  197       Dismissal Rate 23%

“Pro Se”               Filed  588    Dismissed 408        Dismissal Rate 69%

Robert Weed      Filed  513   Dismissed   21      Dismissal Rate   4%

Tommy Andrews   Filed 324     Dismissed  50         Dismissal Rate  15%

Katherine Martel   Filed  139     Dismissed  38         Dismissal Rate  27%

Every person is different and every case is different.   Some cases are harder to avoid a dismissal.  Some cases you may want your bankruptcy dismissed.  And you cannot expect results in your case will match what others have done.

But I’ve done this chart for “Angie”  who wanted to know if she could “trust” a lawyer to handle her case, to get her a discharge; not have her case dismissed.

UPDATE 2017 Lawyers with most and least bankruptcy dismissed.

Here’s an update.  For the first quarter of 2017, our bankruptcy dismissed rate was 4%. (Ninety cases filed, four dismissed.) That’s the lowest of any of the top ten bankruptcy lawyers in Northern Virginia. (Only one other, Robert Brandt, was close. His bankruptcy dismissed rate was 5%—40 cases filed, two dismissed.)

The busiest bankruptcy lawyer in Northern Virginia, Nathan Fisher, filed 173 cases January – March 2017. He had 69 bankrutpcy dismissed—40%. His cases were ten times (!) more likely than mine to be dismissed. Tommy Andrews filed 97 cases and had 23 dismissed. His cases were six times (!) more likely than mine to be dismissed.

The next six lawyers, rounding out the top ten, filed a total of 132 cases an had 32 bankruptcy dismissed. That’s 24%. Again, that’s a bankruptcy dismissed rate six times mine.

Every case is different. Sometimes you want a dismissal. Sometimes it can’t be helped. (One of my clients missed his court date because he died; obviously, that bankruptcy got dismissed.)

But when other lawyers are six times more likely—or even ten times more likely—to have their cases dismissed….well, that tells you something.

4-1-2017 2-29-15 PM

Dismissed bankruptcy cases, Northern Virginia, January – March 2017.

Thinking of filing bankruptcy without a lawyer? January – March 2017, 179 people did that. And 116 cases without a lawyer were dismissed. That’s two out of every three.

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Robert Weed has helped fifteen thousand people file bankruptcy in Northern Virginia. Robert Weed is a frequent panelist and speaker at the meetings of the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. He is one of Northern Virginia’s most experienced personal bankruptcy lawyers. As an expert on changing consumer bankruptcy laws, Robert Weed has been interviewed on local and national TV and quoted in newspapers across the country.

  • T

    August 20, 2012, pm31 12:09 PM

    Your blog has been very informative. I’ve been so scared to file for bankruptcy for various reasons, but your blog has helped alleviate my fears and give me a better understanding of the process. Thank you for the information and I really do wish you had offices in the state of Maryland! Continue on with the excellent work!

    • Robert Weed

      August 20, 2012, pm31 12:21 PM


      Thanks for your kind words.

  • Kevin Hobbs

    October 24, 2012, pm31 12:57 PM

    Your website was extremely informative to me as I am about to try to file chapter 7 after two years of trying to sell my way out of debt. I am disabled with health issues that are going to increase my debt a hundred fold and I’m drowning in debt now. I live in Charlotte County and if you could handle my bankruptcy it would be great. If you can’t , can you recommend someone down here who could that I could trust to look out for my best interests. Thank you for any help and thanks for the website.

    • Robert Weed

      October 24, 2012, pm31 8:31 PM


      I like Cox law group out of Lynchburg. My Southside geography is not what it once was, but I’m thinking that’s less than an hour from you?

      I see he is in Danville, too. Are you about half way between? http://www.coxlawgroup.com/.

  • Erin

    September 14, 2013, am30 3:08 AM

    I have been in bankruptcy for 59 months. The took the payments right out of my check. I now find out that I’m at the end of my plan this month and I’m $4000 behind. How is this possible? The court set up the payments and how much was to come out of each check. I have been living on $1200 a month for a family of 8 for the past 59 months and it’s going to be all for nothing. My case is being dismissed and I will owe $200 on my house and $3800 on unsecured dept. even with a 45 day ext. I can’t come up with that. What should I do?

    • Robert Weed

      September 14, 2013, pm30 2:37 PM


      Wow what a mess. I’m hoping your lawyer can look at the court records and figure out where the problem is.

  • Ray

    September 24, 2013, pm30 3:20 PM

    Your Blog is very informative. I was dismissed from Chapter 13 in July in 2008. and have been working hard to re establish my credit. When do you think my credit will be repaired enough to buy a house?

    • Robert Weed

      September 24, 2013, pm30 3:32 PM


      Good question.

      I sure don’t know. Recovering from a bankruptcy dismissal can be pretty hard.

  • tammy adams

    September 16, 2014, am30 1:10 AM

    Dear Sir,

    My husband and i filed for a chapter 7 in may of this year and we did recieve a 7 discharge as 7/14/14. The bad part is that we didn’t get a good lawyer and he made a lot of mistakes. he filed our case under the wrong address and he said he corrected it b/4 the 341 meeting’ i caught the error not him. we kept waiting for our discharge paperwork and kept calling our attorney and he wouldn’t return our calls so we called the court ourselves and they still had the wrong address. the certification papers that came with it didn’t make any sense at all no amounts listed. Tried to call attorney again and he said the cert paperwork was no big deal and not to worry about it, that didn’t make any sense to us so we pulled our credit reports and there are quite a lot of things that are still on our credit reports as open/collections foreclosure and some of our reports don’t show the chapter 7 at all.

    we have given up on our attorney making things right so not sure what to do.

    we are contemplating hiring a company called lexington law firm. they are supposed to be a credit repair company that has real lawyers and paralegals to clear up this mess. i don’t know who to trust and of course they cost money. we looked up their reviews and there were some really good ones but also alot of bad.

    could u please give some guidance? we are desperate!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    would greatly appreciate any all all accurate guidance you could give.

    thank you,

    tammy adams

  • Corey Wright

    September 19, 2014, pm30 6:39 PM


    My wife and I filed chapter 13 bankruptcy, I earn around $75,000 a year mostly because of overtime that could be stopped at anytime. Our first consultation was hunky dory everything is gonna be fine. Or so the lawyer said. I told her I was possibly going to take a lower paying job but in the long run it would pay more, I asked if that happened would my payments of $972.00 a month be lowered considering we have 3 small children and my wife stays home with them. I was told the payment would be readjusted depending on the pay. We had rented some furniture from Aaron’s we were told to not make the payments that they were included in the bankruptcy, well a month later we get a phone call saying its not included and to pay them, well we were behind on the payments but i managed to catch up. In the middle of court yesterday the lawyer pulls us out and tells us that after the furniture is paid off that my monthly bill will go from $972.00 to $1252.00 and i was told if i take the job that no my payments would not be re-evaluated. If I go to work tomorrow and am told there is no more overtime my children will starve. When i told her this she said she would dismiss herself. I don’t know what to do any attorneys I have called will not consult me while she is around. Yet if I fire her good lord how much more money will that be. I wish I had never done this. It was a mistake to file or I got an awful attorney who lied to me. I wonder if I could call my creditors and see if they would work with me to keep paying them and do away with this bankruptcy.

    Please I desperately need some advice I don’t have a clue what to do.

  • Jose Oquendo

    June 15, 2016, am30 9:59 AM

    My case was dismissed the bankruptcy office told me that they would make my car payments and they onlyrics made 1 and it was 5 months behind so I made 1 payment last month and another Monday and they tried to repo my car I am doing my best to pay but they will not work with me I told them my next payment that I can make is the 15th of next month they will not work with me what can I do

    • Robert Weed

      June 15, 2016, am30 11:33 AM


      You need to work as hard as you can to catch up and do NOT make it easy for them to repo the car. That’s about it.

  • virginia g. carr

    July 8, 2016, pm31 12:17 PM

    I received a dismissal Wed ..was shocked! ! Called my attorney. .his assistant was surprised didn’t know anything about it. .then said I did not send paperwork in. .NOT TRUE I have the confirmation that it was received. .I went to the class REQUIRED. .PMTS UP TO DATE..AT THE CLASS THE PROCEDURES FOR DISMISSAL WAS A LETTER FROM TRUSTEE LETTING ME KNOW THERE WOULD be a hearing on the dismissal. . NEVER got the chance to state what happened. .my a attorney said there is nothing they can do which is not true He can refile immediately. .What can I do now. Case not handled properly. .

    • Robert Weed

      July 8, 2016, pm31 12:59 PM


      You could talk to another bankruptcy lawyer in your area.

  • Nova Business

    May 16, 2019, pm31 9:12 PM

    My father filed a bankruptcy. I believe that this article will definitely help me. Thanks for sharing this article. I will share this to him as soon as possible.

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