Can I File For Bankruptcy Again?
If you have filed for bankruptcy before, you may be wondering if and when you may file again. The option to file for bankruptcy more than once depends on several factors including if you filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and if you were granted a discharge.
Firstly, it is important to note that the limit applies to the number of discharges received and not the number of times you can file bankruptcy. Furthermore, bankruptcy law does not have any restriction on the amount of time you are required to wait before filing bankruptcy again. However, there are rules that determine how many times you may receive a discharge. Filing too soon after your have debts discharged in a prior bankruptcy filing may result in your claim being denied. As such, it is important to know the time frames that pertaining to a bankruptcy case.
Filing Bankruptcy Again: Chapter 13 Cases
If you received your first discharge under Chapter 13, you have to wait two years from the date that you received a second discharge in any Chapter 13 case. This can get a bit confusing particularly if you converted your bankruptcy case. It is recommended to speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney if you are unsure about your eligibility to file for bankruptcy again.
Filing Bankruptcy Again: Chapter 7 Cases
If you received your first discharge under a Chapter 7, you are not eligible to receive a second discharge in any Chapter 7 case that is filed within eight years from the date that the first Chapter 7 was filed.
Filing Different Chapters: The Order Is Important
The order matters if you plan if you prefer to file under a different bankruptcy code than your first filing. The order in which you filed determines the time frame:
Filing Bankruptcy Again: Chapter 13, Then Chapter 7
If you received your first discharge under a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you do not qualify for a discharge under any Chapter 7 case that is filed within six years from the date that the Chapter 13 was filed. The only exceptions to having the six-year waiting period waived is if:
- all unsecured creditors have been paid in full in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.
- the Chapter 7 plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort and you paid at least 70% of the claims in the Chapter 13.
Filing Bankruptcy Again: Chapter 7, Then Chapter 13
If your first discharge was received under Chapter 7 bankruptcy code, you are ineligible to receive a discharge under any Chapter 13 case that is filed within four years from the date that the Chapter 7 was filed.
This may be difficult if your second case is filed between four and eight years after the Chapter 7 case and the court does not approve your Chapter 13 plan. In this case, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney.
Can a Second Bankruptcy Filing be Beneficial Even Without a Discharge?
In some circumstances, you might still benefit from filing a Chapter 13 case immediately after getting a Chapter 7 discharge (this is commonly referred to as a Chapter 20 bankruptcy), even though you cannot get a Chapter 13 discharge. For example, perhaps you want the protection of the bankruptcy court while you pay a tax debt through a Chapter 13 plan. Whether you can get any benefit from a "Chapter 20" depends on your personal circumstances and the case law in your area. It would be wise to consult an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in your area for advice on this subject
If You Didn’t Receive a Discharge in the Bankruptcy First Case
If you were not granted a discharge in the first bankruptcy case, in most cases, you can file bankruptcy again without any restrictions on the second discharge.
What Happens if Your Bankruptcy Case Was Dismissed?
You are permitted to file again if your bankruptcy case was dismissed. A 180-day waiting period may apply if you case was dismissed because you failed to appear, disobeyed a court order or if you voluntarily dismissed you case following a creditor filing for a motion of relief from the automatic stay. Note that different rules may apply pertaining to the automatic stay.
If Your Bankruptcy Discharge Was Denied
In the unfortunate event that your discharge was denied in your first case, you may be able to file again. However, you may not be entitled to a discharge of the debts from your first bankruptcy filing. Under such circumstances it is recommend to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.