How soon can I file bankruptcy again?

Filing for bankruptcy can create a new level of stress with your daily routine, especially when trying to understand the details best suited for your specific situation. Unless you have specifically been ordered by the bankruptcy court details for you to follow within a unique time frame, there really are no restrictions on the number of bankruptcy cases you can file. There are, however, time restraints if your debts were discharged in a previous bankruptcy. Those time delays will be required that they be fulfilled before you are eligible to file for bankruptcy again.

Before you can file for bankruptcy again and receive a discharge, will largely depend on the following:

  • the type of bankruptcy you filed previously and the one you are wanting to file now
  • whether your previous bankruptcy was discharged, dismissed, or dismissed with prejudice
  • the time frame you filed your previous case

Limits on receiving a discharge

You will find that there are time restrictions on when you are eligible for another discharge depending on whether you previously received a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 discharge, as well as the type of bankruptcy you want to file right now.

  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 7: when you have already received a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will be required to wait 8 years from the actual date you filed the previous case before you can file another Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and receive another discharge.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 13: when your debts are discharged in a prior Chapter 13 case, you will not be allowed to receive a discharge in another Chapter 13 case unless it is filed a minimum of 2 years after the actual date of the previous Chapter 13 case was filed. The reason is, because the time frame it generally takes to complete a Chapter 13 repayment plan and receive the discharge is 3 to 5 years. As a general rule, you can typically file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy and be eligible for a discharge immediately after your first case has been finalized and closed.
  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: lets say your first discharge was under a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, then you are eligible to file for a Chapter 13 with a discharges if the case is filed at least 4 years after the initial filing date of the Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. However, it is important to remember, that filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge can still help you pay off priority debts or simply get caught up on missed mortgage or car loan payments, even if you are not entitled to a discharge. Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy following a Chapter 7 discharge is commonly referred to as a Chapter 20 Bankruptcy.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: let’s say you have received a discharge in a previously filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. You will be required to wait 6 years from the actual file date of that original Chapter 13 before you will be qualified to file for a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy with a discharge. However, there is a single exclusion to this rule where the 6 years does not apply. If, in the previous Chapter 13 you paid back: all of your unsecured debts, or at least 70% of your unsecured debts and your plan was proposed in good faith and your best effort was applied.

Are there restrictions if your previous bankruptcy was dismissed with prejudice?

We have covered the discharge limits, now let’s look at limits the bankruptcy court can place upon you when filing another discharge case. The court can prohibit you from filing another bankruptcy case for a specific amount of time if they also dismiss your previous case with prejudice. Generally, a bankruptcy case will be dismissed with prejudice if you fail to obey court orders, file multiple cases to delay creditors, or if you are found trying to abuse the bankruptcy system in any way.

On average, a 180-day bar to re-file is imposed if:

  • you intentionally failed to obey court orders
  • you voluntarily dismissed your previous bankruptcy after a creditor filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay

If you are found committing bankruptcy fraud by hiding assets, lying on your bankruptcy papers, or filing your case in bad faith, the court can prohibit you from filing another bankruptcy case for a longer period of time, or forever preclude you from discharging any debts that you had to the power of being discharged in the dismissed case.

Conclusion

You may find that you have an automatic stay. This protects you from collection efforts by creditors during bankruptcy. There are a few drawbacks from an automatic stay:

  • your first bankruptcy was dismissed and you subsequently filed another case within a single year of the dismissal
  • the automatic say in your new case is limited to 30 days
  • if you have had 2 or more dismissals within a single year of your new bankruptcy, there is no automatic stay

If you find any of these above mentioned as part of your process, and if you file multiple bankruptcies in a single year, it is very possible that you will have to file a motion to extend, or impose the automatic stay, in your current case.

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