Generally speaking, if you file bankruptcy and earn your discharge, you shouldn't have the need or desire to reopen the case. However, in certain situations it may be to your benefit to reopen the case and make some adjustments. A good example of this is if you left any creditors out of your original bankruptcy case. Although in some jurisdictions the debt you owe those creditors will still be considered discharged, it can be a better solution to insert the creditor into the court records for the case to prevent any future complications.
Consult the local rules for your bankruptcy district. Although the United States Code is the authority that grants you the right to reopen your bankruptcy case, most bankruptcy districts have their own specific requirements for you to do so. Check with your local bankruptcy clerk to see what forms are necessary to reopen your case, which may vary based on the reason for the reopening. For example, if you fail to file your financial management course certificate in California, you must use Form 5010-1 to reopen your case and file your certificate.
Complete the necessary forms. Follow the directions you received from the bankruptcy clerk or on the forms themselves. In most cases, you will need to specify your reason for reopening the case, such as an omitted creditor or forgotten document. In some cases, you must file additional paperwork above and beyond the motion to reopen. For example, if you leave out a creditor, in addition to reopening the case, you must submit an amended list of creditors to the court showing the additional creditor.
File the motion in the same bankruptcy court where you filed your original petition. This should typically be with the same bankruptcy clerk from which you got the information or forms on how to reopen your case.
Pay the appropriate fee. It costs $260 as of 2011 to reopen a bankruptcy case, which is another reason why you don't want to reopen your case unless it is absolutely necessary. If you have to amend any schedules, in addition to the reopening fee, you will generally have to pay an additional $26 amendment fee.
John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served for 18 years as an investment counselor before becoming a writing and editing contractor for various private clients. In addition to writing thousands of articles for various online publications, he has published five educational books for young adults.