Filing for Bankruptcy Multiple Times
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If I Have Already Filed for Bankruptcy, When Can I File Again?
Most persons file bankruptcy under the categories of either Chapter 7 (discharge) or Chapter 13 (repayment plan). For persons who have already filed under either category, there are waiting times that must pass before the person can file for bankruptcy again. These can be different depending on the previous filing as well as the category of the newer filing.
Technically, there is actually no requirement for filing bankruptcy- the wait periods really only apply if there has been some discharge of debt in the previous filing. Thus, if a person files too early after a previous filing, they probably won’t be eligible for a discharge of debt the second time around.
This can be big setback, since most people file for bankruptcy to have their debts discharged or excused. Thus, it’s important to know the waiting periods when filing multiple times for a bankruptcy discharge.
What Are the Wait Periods Associated with Repeat Bankruptcy Filings?
The wait periods for re-filing bankruptcy after a previous discharge are different depending on the current filing. If the person is filing successive claims under the same chapter, the wait periods are:
- Chapter 7: If you received a Chapter 7 discharge, you must wait at least 8 years from the filing date of the first claim in order to receive another Chapter 7 discharge
- Chapter 13: If your previous discharge was under Chapter 13 laws, you must wait 2 years from the date of the first claim in order to be eligible for another Chapter 13 discharge.
The wait periods are different again if the person will be filing under a different chapter (for example, they received a discharge under Chapter 7 before and are now filing under Chapter 13, or vice versa). If this is the case, the wait periods are:
- Discharge under Chapter 13 followed by Chapter 7: You must wait 6 years from the date of the original Chapter 13 filing in order to obtain a discharge again under Chapter 7. There may be some exceptions to this rules, for example if you paid off all your creditors under the Chapter 13 plan, or if you paid at least 70% of the debt in a good faith efforts
- Discharge under Chapter 7 followed by Chapter 13 filing: You must wait 4 years from the date of the original Chapter 7 filing before you can obtain another discharge under Chapter 13.
These wait periods can become even more complicated under various situations. For example, suppose that you previously obtained a Chapter 7 discharge. If you apply for a Chapter 13 discharge, you would need to wait four years as stated above. However, in the event that a Chapter 13 application is denied, it is standard practice to convert the application into a Chapter 7 filing. In this case, since you already received a Chapter 7 discharge previously, the wait periods associated with successive Chapter 7 filings would kick in. This means that you’d have to wait a total of 8 years from the original filing.
Finally, these wait periods might not apply if you’re simply filing another bankruptcy claim under Chapter 13 or 7 but aren’t looking for a discharge of debts. This usually happens when a person files under Chapter 13 to pay off certain tax debts, even though they previously filed under Chapter 7.
Should I Hire a Lawyer?
Multiple or repeat bankruptcy filings are becoming more commonplace under the current economic conditions. If have already filed for bankruptcy in the past but are now seeking to file again, you may need to hire a bankruptcy lawyer for assistance. A qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area will be able to explain your options to you, especially if you are seeking a discharge of debts. Your lawyer can help prepare all the required paperwork and can represent you during formal court hearings.
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Last Modified: 03-20-2014 04:55 PM PDT
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