What Does “Bad Faith” Mean in Bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy QuestionsAs it sounds, this is not a term you care to associate yourself with if you can help it.  Bad faith refers to certain actions and circumstances that cover fraudulent bankruptcy filings.  In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act was legislated to define and outline situations associated with bad faith bankruptcy filing.

One of the roles of the bankruptcy court and bankruptcy Trustee is to protect creditors from debtors who are maliciously trying to defraud the system.  Most debtors are really struggling under the weight of their debt without much hope of ever breaking even, but unfortunately, there are people who are just trying to stall or manipulate creditors.  There are 5 situations in which a debtor is considered to act in bad faith.

First, if there is evidence that a debtor is trying to unfairly thwart a creditor’s efforts to collect on a debt, this is considered a bad faith filing.  For example, a client files bankruptcy in order to stall a foreclosure with no intention of ever completing the bankruptcy.  Bad faith is relevant when a client files bankruptcy to save a home, then does not make any of the required plan payments and is dismissed.  This of course can be a very fine line and cannot always be proved; especially if a client has a very tight budget and unforeseen circumstances arise.  Most Chapter 13 bankruptcy clients are in this position and have every intention of completing their bankruptcy.  This is why bankruptcy is a very involved process and should be taken seriously by all potential debtors.

Another bad faith filing revolves around a debtor filing a bankruptcy while already in an active one.  How does this happen?  Most commonly, a debtor is dismissed from a bankruptcy and files before they have received a Final Decree that officially releases them from the first bankruptcy.  Or, a Chapter 13 client cares to convert to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and files a Chapter 7 while still in the Chapter 13 without permission from the court.  Or a debtor tries to file bankruptcy within the time limitations, such as with 8 years of previously filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or 4 years for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

The third example would be prevalent among the debtors who care to file pro se or without an attorney.  There are certain documents and motions that must be filed with the court.  Two very important documents are the financial management certification and the motion for discharge.  Don’t know what these are?  That is why an attorney comes in handy!  A bankruptcy case may be dismissed under bad faith if required documents are not filed or presented to the bankruptcy court or bankruptcy Trustee.

Fourth, if a debtor is continually filing and being dismissed from a Chapter 13 due to non-payment, the bankruptcy Trustee may reject the case due to bad faith.  If you are dismissed from a Chapter 13 you may turn around after the final decree and file again as long as the court has not placed some limitation on your ability to file again like dismissing your case with prejudice. The big question to determine bad faith is “why do you keep being dismissed?  And what is different about your situation from your previous filings?”  Usually, this is just a due diligence question, but it is very important.

Lastly, if you fail to make adequate protection payments, your bankruptcy is automatically noted as being filed in bad faith.  Adequate protection is rather loosely defined as the initial payments in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  On the other hand, in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, unprotected equity must be compensated to the Trustee in order for the debtor to keep the non-exempted asset.  If this adequate protection payment is not made to the Trustee in the mandated time frame, your case can be dismissed.

Be sure to avoid a situation in which your case may be dismissed for “bad faith.” Contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer who can help you navigate the, often times, tricky path through bankruptcy.

What Are the Most Common Reasons A Bankruptcy Case is Dismissed?

There are numerous reasons a bankruptcy case may be dismissed. A dismissal of a bankruptcy case is when the federal judge issues an order terminating a case.  Usually the debts are not eliminated if the case is dismissed.  In contrast, a “discharge” means the debts have been eliminated.  Listed below are the most common reasons a bankruptcy case could be dismissed:

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1)    The debtor gives a false oath or information on the bankruptcy petition with the intent to defraud creditors,

2)    The debtor has filed a previous bankruptcy within a certain time period and is not eligible to file another bankruptcy and receive a discharge of the debts,

3)    The debtor has not filed all the required documents with the bankruptcy court,

4)    The debtor did not take and complete the required court approved credit counseling and/or financial management courses as required by federal law,

5)    The debtor fails to provide certain documentation to the bankruptcy Trustee upon request of such documents by the Trustee,

6)    The bankruptcy Trustee has objected to the discharge of the debtor’s debts based upon his investigation of the debtor,

7)    In a Chapter 13 repayment plan, the debtor fails to make the required Chapter 13 plan payments to the Chapter 13 Trustee,

8)    The debtor has non-exempt property and fails to turn such property over to the Trustee upon request,

9)    The debtor fails to obey a lawful order of the court, and

10) The bankruptcy judge believes there is good cause to deny the debtor a discharge and dismisses the bankruptcy case.

In conclusion, the above list is not exhaustive, but does highlight some of the most common reasons a bankruptcy case could be dismissed.

Danger of Fraudulent Transfers in a Bankrutpcy


Fraudulent transfer of an asset in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy usually occurs when a person knowingly transfers an asset – house, car, equipment, business, cash, stock, etc. – to another person or company to avoid losing the asset to a creditor or to the bankruptcy court.  A fraudulent transfer can be reversed or voided by the bankruptcy court resulting in the loss of the asset after all.  Any transfer of an asset prior to filing bankruptcy should be avoided, since it will most likely be scrutinized by the bankruptcy court.  The transfer of an asset to an insider, such as a relative or a business partner, will be scrutinized even more

Can I File Bankruptcy If I Recently Sold My House?



Yes, you can file for bankruptcy if you have recently sold a home. You will, however, need to wait at least 90 days. You may even have to wait a bit longer depending on how much money you had received from the sale. Make sure that you discuss this with your attorney. He or she will probably ask to see a copy of the closing papers so that they can determine how long you may need to wait before filing. Usually the court will not have a problem with you selling your home so recently as long as it was not sold to an insider, such as a family member.

Also be prepared that the bankruptcy Trustee may want to know what you did with the excess money that you received from the sale of your home. Be prepared to be able to explain this. It is a good idea to keep excellent record of where this money goes. Keeping copies of bank statements and cancelled checks will help with this. The court will want to be able to see that the money was used for necessary expenses, such as food, and not on something such as a vacation or other luxury items.

If you try to file bankruptcy immediately after selling your home and you have a large amount of money in the bank, used the money to purchase non-necessities or gave it to family then you may not be able to file for bankruptcy. As always, it’s in your best bet to contact a bankruptcy lawyer in your area to see what they recommend.