If you have filed bankruptcy before and are now facing another financial crisis you might wonder if it is possible to file a second bankruptcy. Although there are no regulations about the number of times you can file bankruptcy, if you have received a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge there is a specified time period you must wait between each discharge before you can file a second bankruptcy and receive a discharge. Recently on our legal forum we had a user ask, “Can I file a second bankruptcy if I filed in 2003?”
Filing a second bankruptcy after a previous Chapter 7 discharge
The amount of time you must wait to file a second bankruptcy after a bankruptcy discharge depends on what type of bankruptcy you filed the first time and what type of bankruptcy you are considering now. For instance, if you have received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge you cannot receive another Chapter 7 discharge for a second bankruptcy until at least eight years.
Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy after a previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy
If, however, you file a second Chapter 13 bankruptcy case after you have received a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, you will not be able to receive a second Chapter 13 discharge if it is filed less than two years from the first Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge.
Consider there are some complicated rules if you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy a second time and your plan is not confirmed. Under this situation most filers would try to convert to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but the rules for the Chapter 7 waiting period would apply. Under these rules you cannot receive a Chapter 7 discharge within six years from your first Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy then filing another Chapter 7 bankruptcy
What if you want to file a second bankruptcy under a different chapter? The time frame varies, and it will depend on what chapter you filed the first time. As mentioned above, if you filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy then wanted to file Chapter 7, you would have to wait six years unless under your first Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing you paid all of unsecured creditors 100% of the debts owed or you paid them at least 70% of what was owed and the courts determined your efforts were in good faith.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing then a Chapter 13 bankruptcy
What if you received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge then wanted to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy? You will have to wait four years to file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy case. If, however, the court does not confirm your Chapter 13 plan and you try to convert back to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, if it has been less than the eight year waiting period between Chapter 7 filings you will not be allowed to get another Chapter 7 discharge. At this point you might want to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your options.
My case was dismissed and I did not receive a discharge
In some cases bankruptcy cases are filed but then dismissed. Dismissal occurs for a variety of reasons: you did not appear in court, you did not obey a court order, or you voluntarily asked for a dismissal. If your case was dismissed you generally have to wait 180-day days before you file a second bankruptcy, but you may want to talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about your particular case.
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