How to Appeal a Dismissal of a Bankruptcy Petition

Before a bankruptcy may be discharged, the bankruptcy court hearing the case must approve the debtor's petition. If the court determines that the petition does not meet the requirements as set forth by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the bankruptcy filing may be dismissed. Part VIII of the federal bankruptcy code establishes the means by which a debtor may appeal the dismissal of a bankruptcy petition.
How to Appeal a Dismissal of a Bankruptcy Petition

Filing Notice of Appeal

Under rule 8002 of the bankruptcy code, petitioners are given fourteen days to file a notice of appeal with the bankruptcy court. The notice of appeal must be filed with the bankruptcy clerk of court and consists of an official appeal form which must list the petitioner's name and contact information along with the names and contact information of all creditors, or appellees, and their attorneys involved in the bankruptcy. The petitioner is required to provide copies for each listed party and the bankruptcy trustee, as they each must be served with the notice.

During the fourteen-day appeal period, petitioners may file a motion with the court asking for an extension of time to file the notice of appeal. Petitioners may also file motions requesting that the court amend the original decree, reconsider their decision, or request a new trial. Filing any of these motions also extends the fourteen-day period from the date the motions are ruled on.

Designating the Record and Issues on Appeal

Within fourteen days of filing the notice of appeal, petitioners are required to file a designation of the record and a statement of issues to be considered. This is essentially a list of the items that are to be included in the appeal and an outline of what issues the petitioner would like the court to consider. Petitioners are responsible for filing the record with the clerk of court and again providing enough copies for service to all parties included in the case. Appellees have fourteen days from the time they're served to submit a designation of any issues they would like to be considered in this case. This normally only occurs it the petitioner is attempting to raise new issues in the case.

Briefs and Appendices

Once the appeal is entered onto the court's docket and a court date is scheduled, the petitioner then has an additional fourteen days to file a brief with the court. The brief is essentially a statement of the issues in the case and the arguments pertaining to why the appeal should be granted. The brief must be no more than fifty pages in length and must be properly served to all appellees and the trustee. Appellees then have fourteen days from the date of service to file a brief in response.

If the appeal is being heard by a bankruptcy appellate panel rather than the bankruptcy court, then the petitioner must also include an appendix with the brief. The appendix should contain any motions, orders, decrees, judgments, or any other documentation relevant to the appeal.

The Court's Ruling

On the day of the hearing, the petitioner or their attorney may choose to present oral arguments in the case. Any outstanding motions will be ruled on and the court will make a determination as to whether to uphold the dismissal, amend the original order, or overturn it entirely. If the order is upheld and the previous dismissal stands, petitioners have an additional fourteen days to file a motion for a rehearing in the case. If a bankruptcy petition is dismissed a second time, petitioners must wait 180 days before attempting to refile.

Appealing a bankruptcy dismissal can be a difficult and often frustrating process. While an appeal does not always guarantee that a dismissal will be overturned, the chances of winning an appeal are greatly increased if the petitioner follows the proper steps in the appellate process.

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