Filing for Bankruptcy Multiple Times
As hard as it might be for someone who has never considered filing to believe, some people need to file for bankruptcy multiple times. Life is unpredictable and a lot of that unpredictability affects income. Even those who are diligent about careful spending and saving could face unexpected circumstances and need to use bankruptcy more than once.
If this happens to you, what do you need to know about filing for bankruptcy multiple times?
Filing vs. Receiving Debt Discharge
The most common question asked by people in this situation is “how soon can I file for bankruptcy again?”
The answer is “you can file as often as you’d like, but you might not qualify for a discharge.” The discharge of your debt, whether or not you received a discharge, and how long it’s been since the discharge occurred are the things you need to consider. If you file too soon after receiving a discharge in a previous bankruptcy case, you won’t be eligible for a discharge if you file again.
You also need to consider whether you’ll be filing for the same chapter bankruptcy the second time around. The timeframes vary based on the bankruptcy chapter. For example, you’ll need to wait:
- Eight years between chapter 7 discharges
- Two years between chapter 13 discharges
- Six years between a chapter 13 discharge and a chapter 7 discharge (However, the wait is shorter if you paid unsecured creditors in full in your chapter 13 case or paid at least 70 percent in good faith)
- Four years between a chapter 7 discharge and a new chapter 13
Again, the important thing to remember is that the rules apply to your discharge, not your filed case. This means if you filed either chapter 7 or chapter 13 and never received a discharge, the timeframes might not apply.
Filing for Bankruptcy Multiple Times after Case Dismissal or Denial
If the bankruptcy court dismissed your original case, you’re free to file again and will only need to wait 180 days in certain circumstances. Sometimes you won’t even need to wait that long. If the court denied your discharge, you can file again at any time, but there’s a chance the debts listed in your original case won’t be discharged in the second filing either. Both of these are special circumstances that you’ll need assistance from an attorney to deal with.
There’s one additional thing to consider when you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy a second time. It might be something you should do even if you do not receive a discharge.
If you need some time to assess your situation, bankruptcy provides you that. You’ll stop creditors from calling you and allow yourself time to arrange repayment terms on the debts in question. If you weren’t able to deal with all of your debts in your original bankruptcy or something new has cropped up and you’re facing a new financial emergency, time might be just what you need.
It’s also possible to file chapter 13 immediately after you’ve received a chapter 7 discharge. This is actually a chapter 20 bankruptcy and it’s used to gain more time to pay off or bring current non-dischargeable debts. People often use this approach when dealing with tax debts or court-obligated debts like child support.
Bankruptcy law gives you a great deal of opportunity, but it can also be confusing and complicated. This is why it’s so important to work with an experienced bankruptcy attorney.