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Yes; you can file bankruptcy more than once, but the Bankruptcy Code Spells out the various timelines that apply!

In a perfect world, everyone would be able to pay their debts and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world, and sometimes people find themselves buried in credit card debt, tax debts, and other unsecured debts. If you are struggling to make ends meet and are considering debt relief under the bankruptcy code, you may be wondering: can you file for bankruptcy more than once?

The answer is yes – you can file for bankruptcy multiple times throughout your life. Many individuals are shocked to learn that they can go bankrupt more than once.

There are no restrictions on the number of times you may declare bankruptcy in reality. There are, however, limits on how frequently you can file for bankruptcy relief.

We will discuss the details of chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcies so that you can decide which option is best for you to get your debts discharged.

How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

If you had filed for bankruptcy before and received a discharge, the bankruptcy code specifies when you may file again for a new discharge. You might file again if you did not obtain a discharge in your prior bankruptcy filing.

Even if you have received a discharge, you can file for bankruptcy twice or three times. The key is that you’ll have to wait a certain amount of time after receiving your discharge before filing for bankruptcy again. The filing date on your last case is critical.

A Bankruptcy Lawyer can guide you through the bankruptcy process of a new case filing!

Although it may be tempting to file for bankruptcy if you don’t expect to receive a discharge, these circumstances are uncommon (more below).

Because filing for bankruptcy too soon will almost always result in wasted time and money, it’s critical to know when to file.

Get a free bankruptcy evaluation of your case. Talking to a bankruptcy attorney in your jurisdiction can be helpful if you are considering filing a second or new bankruptcy case.

A bankruptcy lawyer will know the bankruptcy court rules that apply to second and subsequent bankruptcy filings.

how soon can you file bankruptcy again

How long after receiving a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy discharge can you refile a new bankruptcy case?

If you received a previous chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, the amount of time you need to wait to file a new case is determined by if you are filing a new bankruptcy chapter 7 case or a recent bankruptcy chapter 13 case.

The filing dates are the important dates to look at. Not the date the case was discharged. Having copies of your bankruptcy papers from your last case is helpful.

File a new Chapter 7 Bankruptcy 

If you have previously been discharged under Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, you must wait eight years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy to submit a new one.

There is often confusion in regards to these two dates. The critical date is the “filing date” and not the “discharge date” on the last bankruptcy case.

If the second case is filed before the 8-year waiting period has elapsed, your discharge will be denied, and you will be held legally responsible for all of your obligations. That means any unsecured debts will survive the second bankruptcy case.

File a new Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you have previously received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, you must wait four years from the filing date before filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and receiving a Chapter 13 discharge.

If you file within the four-year wait period, you will be denied a discharge and responsible for all of your debts.

can you file bankruptcy more than once

How long after receiving a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy discharge can you refile a new bankruptcy case?

If you filed a previous chapter 13 bankruptcy case and received a Chapter 13 discharge, the length of time you must wait before filing a new case is determined by whether you’re launching a new chapter 7 bankruptcy case or a new chapter 13 bankruptcy case.

The filing dates are the key dates in making this determination.

How soon can you file a new Chapter 7 Bankruptcy after a Chapter 13 Discharge? 

If you have previously received a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, you must wait six years from the filing date to obtain a complete discharge in a new Chapter 7 filing according to bankruptcy law.

You will not receive a chapter 7 discharge if you file a new Chapter 7 case before the six years.

Likely the bankruptcy court will file a motion to dismiss once it determines that a prior case was filed.

Exceptions to the six-year waiting period to file a Chapter 7 case after a chapter 13 discharge

If you paid 100% of your unsecured debts or at least 70% of your unsecured debts and submitted a chapter 13 plan in good faith and with your best effort, the six-year waiting period does not apply.

How soon can you file a new Chapter 13 Bankruptcy after a Chapter 13 Discharge? 

If you received a discharge in a previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must wait two years from the filing date of that case before filing a new Chapter 13 case.

You will be liable for all debts not paid through the chapter 13 bankruptcy if you file before the two-year waiting period.

how often can i declare bankruptcy

What is the Bankruptcy Process for a second bankruptcy filing?

The bankruptcy process for filing a second or subsequent case is similar to the initial filing. What matters though is what has changed in the Debtor’s financial condition since the last bankruptcy case.

The bankruptcy process will consist of the following three steps.

Gather all of your documents

The first thing you should do is gather all of your financial records to fully understand your current situation. You’ll want to make a list of all of your obligations, so you don’t have to look them up while filling out your bankruptcy paperwork. A review of your credit report can be helpful.

Next, start by getting credit counseling

Every person who files for bankruptcy is required to take credit counseling. You must finish the course within six months after you file for bankruptcy.

The course must be taken at an authorized credit counseling agency that has been certified by the Department of Justice. Keep your certificate of completion since a copy will be needed when you submit your bankruptcy petition.

Lastly, fill out and submit the bankruptcy paperwork

The majority of people seek the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney to file their case, but it is not necessary. If you choose to hire an attorney, they will handle this phase and keep you updated on what occurs next until your case.

Should I hire a bankruptcy attorney if I want to submit for bankruptcy more than once?

Hiring a bankruptcy lawyer is typically well worth the money, even if it adds another cost for individuals filing. An attorney will ensure that all forms and documents are completed correctly and submitted to the Court.

how many times can you declare personal bankruptcy

What happened when your previous bankruptcy was Dismissed?

If your previous bankruptcy petition was dismissed, you might refile right away in most cases. If you didn’t follow a court order or show up in CourtCourt, or if you decided to end your case after a creditor filed a request for relief from the bankruptcy stay, you might be required to wait 180 days before filing.

A second filing within a year will require a motion filed in bankruptcy court. The presumption is that the new bankruptcy filing is being made in good faith, but a creditor can challenge this.

The bankruptcy cannot be filed again in some circumstances, such as fraud or misrepresentation to the CourtCourt.

What happens when your previous bankruptcy was Denied?

You could refile, but you won’t get a debt discharge for the debts listed in your previous case. This often occurs when a party fails to cooperate with the trustee and files a motion to deny the Debtor a bankruptcy discharge.

If you had a previous bankruptcy case denied, you must talk to a bankruptcy lawyer. It is possible that the new filing will not be successful and will result in wasted time and money.

At What Point Are Multiple Bankruptcy Filings Considered Abusive By The Bankruptcy Court?

The phrase “abusive bankruptcy filing” can refer to a bankruptcy filing that is not filed to receive a discharge.

However, it may also be used to describe an instance filed by someone who abuses the bankruptcy process to avoid paying a lender or gain time in a collection action, such as through a foreclosure or lawsuit.

The Court frowns upon debtors who file without any intention of seeing the matter through. Repeat filers may be prevented from filing a case for up to 365 days after their initial application.

There will be no automatic stay in effect if a debtor files a case within this time frame, so creditors can proceed against the Debtor as if there was no bankruptcy case filed.

Talk to a Bankruptcy Attorney if you find the need to file a second or subsequent case.

If you are considering bankruptcy, it’s essential to understand the various timelines that apply. The Bankruptcy Code spells out how often you can file and under which circumstances.  

However, if you’re struggling with debt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer today about your options and find out how filing for bankruptcy could help you get back on track.

Bruce Law Firm offers a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer to discuss your case if you have credit cards or tax debt and need debt relief, call today.