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When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?

While bankruptcy protection can help relieve financial distress, it isn't always a permanent solution, especially if you're hit with a financial crisis after you've exited the court's protection. But, because of complex bankruptcy laws, many people are unsure when they're legally allowed to file for bankruptcy a second time.

Your eligibility to file a second time depends on several factors, including which chapter you previously filed, and which chapter you intend to file, and whether you completed your previous case. A local bankruptcy attorney can help you evaluate your situation. To ask your questions to a bankruptcy lawyer right now, please fill out this form.

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Filing Bankruptcy Again

If you are eligible to file again, you must wait a certain amount of time if you’d like to receive a discharge from the bankruptcy court with each new filing. Here's a look at the various wait times required between types of filings.

  • Two Chapter 7 filings: To receive a discharge of debts in Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait eight years between multiple filings. This is the longest waiting period, largely because Chapter 7 bankruptcy offers filers the possibility of a complete discharge of certain debts – in other words, the filer is not responsible for any payments on whatever debts are discharged in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  • Two Chapter 13 filings: If you have received a discharge from the bankruptcy court in a Chapter 13 case, you have to wait two years before filing another Chapter 13 petition. This wait time is significantly less than between Chapter 7 filings, in part because Chapter 13 bankruptcy requires filers to make regular payments to their creditors. The debt relief is less dramatic and requires some repayment.
  • Chapter 7 then Chapter 13: To get a discharge in both cases, you need to wait four years to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after you've filed a Chapter 7 case. This reflects the difference in type of protection offered by the two kinds of bankruptcy: while the initial Chapter 7 filing would have offered a total discharge of some debts, the subsequent Chapter 13 filing would require the filer to repay some of her debtors.
  • Chapter 13 then Chapter 7: If you want a Chapter 7 discharge from the bankruptcy court, you must wait six years after having filed a Chapter 13 case, unless certain other factors have been met, which you can discuss with your bankruptcy lawyer. If a filer qualified for Chapter 13 initially, he likely had sufficient income and/or assets to make regular payments under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, which generally lasts three to five years. The six-year waiting period may suggest that significant income changes may have happened after that repayment period ended.

Talk to a Lawyer about Your Bankruptcy Options

Multiple bankruptcy filings may be necessary to protect you financially, but may not the only option for filers whose financial situations have changed. You may want to ask a bankruptcy lawyer, for example, about converting a Chapter 13 case to a Chapter 7 case if you’ve become unable to make regular payments according to your repayment plan.

Whatever questions or concerns you have about your bankruptcy case or existing debts, take advantage of this offer for a free consultation with a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in your area.