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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

Have you already filed for bankruptcy but are looking for further debt relief? Are you finding yourself in a cycle of repeated financial trouble? If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, you may wonder how soon you can file again.

The answer depends on the type of bankruptcy you have filed in the past and which chapter you are looking at filing next. Let’s explore how many times you can file for bankruptcy and look at a few different scenarios to help determine if you’re ready to file again.

How Many Times Can You File for Bankruptcy?

There is no maximum number of times you can file for bankruptcy. However, it is essential to know the waiting period before filing again.

Even though there is no limit, you must be careful not to file too soon after your previous filing as it is a requirement that the waiting period expire before you will be considered qualified for further debt forgiveness. If you jump the gun, you may not be eligible for another chapter 7 discharge or chapter 13 discharge. Your case may even be thrown out, and you will miss out on the benefits of filing again.

How Long Do You Have to Wait to File Again?

To determine your waiting period, you need to consider your bankruptcy filing date rather than the discharge date. Use this date as your starting point. The waiting periods between filings for previous chapter 7 cases or chapter 13 cases in which you have received a discharge for your debts are determined by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and are as follows:

  • If you previously filed Chapter 7 and plan to file Chapter 7 again, the waiting period is eight years.
  • If you previously filed Chapter 7 and plan to file Chapter 13, the waiting period is four years.
  • If you previously filed Chapter 13 and plan to file Chapter 7, the waiting period is six years. *Or upon payment in full on your repayment plan.
  • If you previously filed Chapter 13 and plan to file Chapter 13 again, the waiting period is two years.

These waiting periods are established to help avoid cases where individuals abuse the system and choose to make poor financial decisions, racking up more debt, such as credit card debt, that they will not be able to repay. During the waiting period, it is expected that you will do your best to complete your pay offs. The court will not consider another filing if they do not believe you are acting in good faith.

Keep in mind that when filing for your next bankruptcy, your repayment plan and number of unsecured debts owed will change. The length of time it stays on your record will also change. There are many factors to consider and it’s important to work with an expert bankruptcy law attorney who can help you determine the best option for you and assist you with filing when the time comes.

How Can Multiple Bankruptcies Affect Your Credit Report?

The main thing to pay attention to in relation to your credit report when filing multiple bankruptcies is whether your automatic stay is going to expire before your next discharge gets filed. You will need to ensure that the discharge takes place prior to its expiration. This will prevent creditors from making attempts to collect and pursue lawsuits against you.

Multiple bankruptcies on your credit report will result in a poor credit score for at least a year. This can make it hard to find lenders or to qualify for lower interest rates for future credit.

How often can you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy?

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is an excellent option for people with limited assets and income to discharge most of their unsecured debts. The bankruptcy code allows Chapter 7 filers to keep certain types of property. Everything else gets sold in a liquidation sale to pay off creditors. Most people keep the majority of their property in Chapter 7, because they simply don’t have enough assets.

There isn’t a limit to how many times you can file for Chapter 7. However, once you’ve received a Chapter 7 discharge, there’s an eight-year waiting period before you can receive another Chapter 7 discharge. If you’ve previously filed under Chapter 13 and received a discharge, you need to wait four years before filing for Chapter 7.

If your Chapter 7 case was dismissed because you didn’t follow an order from the bankruptcy court, you may have to wait 180 days to file again.

How often can you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Chapter 13 bankruptcy works a little differently than Chapter 7. In Chapter 13 cases, you pay a portion of your income each month to the bankruptcy trustee. They divide this money among your creditors to pay off your debts.

Chapter 13 cases last for three or five years. At the end of the repayment plan, most of the debts will be paid off or discharged. Some debts, like student loans, can’t be discharged.

With Chapter 13, many debts are entirely paid off during the repayment period. Others receive most of what was owed. Because of this, waiting periods for Chapter 13 are shorter.

If you’ve previously received a Chapter 13 discharge, you’ll need to wait two years before filing under Chapter 13 again. You’ll need to wait up to six years before filing a new Chapter 7 case. This period is shorter for people who have paid all, or most, of their debts in good faith during their previous Chapter 13 case.

Although Chapter 13 has some benefits over Chapter 7, including shorter waiting periods, not everyone qualifies for this type of bankruptcy. To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to earn a steady paycheck that will support paying back your creditors over the three or five-year repayment plan.

Consider This: Filing Before the Waiting Period Expires

Is it ever a good idea to file before the waiting period expires? Yes. If you are not seeking a bankruptcy discharge but would like to put a new repayment plan in place, filing again before the waiting period is up could be beneficial for you.

This would be true in a scenario where you previously filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and are now considering filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This could help you manage your remaining debts.

This process of filing is sometimes considered a “Chapter 20 bankruptcy”. Understand that if you choose to go this route, you will not qualify for another debt discharge until the new waiting period has ended.

It is important to note that many courts do not allow double filings, so if you think this might be the right move for you, it is essential to consult an attorney to advise you through this complicated process.

Considering Filing Again? Help from a Trusted Bankruptcy Attorney

If you are considering filing again, schedule a consultation with us today. We can advise you on next steps with your bankruptcy case, give you direction on the best plan for you, and assist you with filing.