How Often Can I File Bankruptcy?

If you have filed a previous bankruptcy and you received a discharge, the Bankruptcy Code specifies certain time limits as to when you can file bankruptcy again and obtain a discharge. If your case was closed or dismissed, however, and you did not obtain a discharge in your previous bankruptcy case, then you can file another bankruptcy again without restriction.  The following time limits are built into the Bankruptcy Code.

Previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you have previously received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, you can file bankruptcy again and be entitled to another discharge in the following situations:

  • Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after you have obtained a Chapter 7 discharge, you will have to wait 8 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The 8 year time period starts from the date that you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Example: if you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy in  May of 2004, then you would be eligible to file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in May of 2012.
  • Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after your have obtained a Chapter 7 discharge, you will need to wait 4 years to obtain a complete discharge.  There are certain situations in which it may be advantageous for you to file a Chapter 13 right after a Chapter 7, even if you cannot obtain a full discharge in the subsequent Chapter 13.  If  you file within 4 years, however, any unsecured debts not discharged in the previous Chapter 7 will also not be discharged in the Chapter 13.  The 4 year time period starts to run from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Example: If you filed your Chapter 7 in June of 2008, then you would be eligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in June of 2012.

Previous Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you have previously received a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, you can file bankruptcy again and be entitled to another discharge in the following situations:

  • Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy after you have received a Chapter 13 discharge, you will need to wait 6 years from the date of filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to receive a full discharge. You may be able to obtain a full discharge of your unsecured debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even if you file within 6 years, but you must have paid your unsecured creditors 70% or more during your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Otherwise, you will need to wait at least 6 years from the date of filing your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a discharge.  Example: If you filed your Chapter 13 in July of 2006, then  you would be eligible for to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in July of 2012.
  • Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you need to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy after you have received a Chapter 13 discharge, you will need to wait 2 years from the date of filing of your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Example: If you filed your Chapter 13 in August of 2010, then you would be eligible to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in August of 2012.

If you file a new bankruptcy case before the statutory time period has elapsed since your previous bankruptcy, you will not be able to obtain a complete discharge of your debts in your new bankruptcy case.  Achieving the maximum benefit from the bankruptcy discharge should be your main goal for filing a D.C. or Virginia bankruptcy.  Consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure that all of your eligible debts are discharged in your bankruptcy.  Call Lee Legal at (202) 448-5136 or or (703) 879-2870 for more information.

Comments

  1. dee coe says

    this is very confusing to me i don’t know how to find that information my husbandd and i filed chapter 13 in wisconsin and when we moved to missouri we changed it to chapter 7 it was discharched in 2008 i believe september

  2. says

    Dee:

    You and your husband filed a Chapter 7 (case 07-60844-abf7) in Missouri on 06/15/07 and received a discharge on 09/21/07. The relevant dates are case filing date to case filing date.

    You qualify for a Chapter 13 (with discharge) immediately, since it has been more than four years since your last filing. However, you must wait until 6/16/15 to qualify for a Chapter 7.

    Hope this helps!

  3. linda says

    I filed and had a chapter 7 discharged in 2005 before the new bankruptcy law took effect. Am I held to those law for counting whether or not I can file 7 again since the time I filed this law was not in effect.

  4. says

    That is correct, Linda. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act applies to those who filed prior to the law’s taking effect. If your case was filed in 2005, you will be eligible to file another Chapter 7 in 2013.

  5. Vanessa says

    If I filed for chapter 13 January 24, 2010 and it was dismissed on August 8, 2012 can I refile for chapter 13 again this October 2012?

  6. Donna Witowski says

    I was discharged Aug 2004 for chapter seven then went to 13 they said it was too soon to do chapter seven again is that correct when would I be eligible for seven again they said 2014

  7. says

    Hi, Donna. The applicable look-back date is the filing date of your previous case, not the discharge date. Your eligibility to file Chapter 7 again is dependent on whether your Chapter 7 was converted to a Chapter 13, or if you filed a subsequent Chapter 13 after your Chapter 7 discharge.

  8. Beverly says

    I filed chapter 13 in 2012 and it was dismissed twice when can I file again divorce finale now

  9. says

    If your case was dismissed and you did not obtain a discharge, there is nothing preventing you from filing right now. Section 362(c)(3) of the Bankruptcy Code modifies the provisions of the automatic stay for serial filers. You should discuss the application of that Code section with a bankruptcy attorney prior to your filing a new case.

  10. alicia thomas says

    i think i filled my chapter 13 in 2010 i did received a discharge how long do i have to wait to file a chapter13 again

  11. says

    To obtain a full Chapter 13 discharge, there must be 4 years separating the filings. For example, if you filed your previous Chapter 13 in July 2010, you can file another Chapter 13 in July 2014 and obtain a full Chapter 13 discharge.

  12. Karla Love says

    I filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in Jan 2009 and it was discharged, I had medical issues and so I file for chapter 13 in April of 2013 can I convert it to chapter 7?

  13. says

    Hi, Karla. You will not be eligible to receive a Chapter 7 discharge (either through a new case or by conversion from Chapter 13) until January 2017.

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