You Can File Bankruptcy More Often Than You Think
One of the more common misconceptions I have notice about Bankruptcy is “how long you must wait between filings.”
The answer depends on a number of different factors, including: 1) What Bankruptcy Chapter did you file under previously (Chapter 7 or Chapter 13)? (2) What Bankruptcy Chapter are you planning on filing this time? AND (3) Was your previous bankruptcy successful (received a discharge)?
If you filed a chapter 7 and received a discharge*, then you must wait 8 years to file another chapter 7. The 8 year time period is measured between filing dates. (In other words: 8 years between successful chapter 7 filings). 11 USC 727(a)(8)
If you filed a chapter 13 and received a discharge, then you must wait 6 years to file a chapter 7. Again, the time period is measured between filing dates^^. (In other words: 6 years when going from a successful Chapter 13 to a Chapter 7). 11 USC 727(a)(9)
If you filed a chapter 7 and received a discharge, then you must wait 4 years to file a Chapter 13 and be eligible for a discharge in the chapter 13###. (In other words: 4 years when going from a successful Chapter 7 to a successful Chapter 13). 11 USC 1328(f)(1)
If you filed a chapter 13 and received a discharge, then you must wait 2 years to file another Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and be eligible for a discharge##. (In other words: 2 years between successful chapter 13 filings). 11 USC 1328(f)(2)
* The time limits listed above apply if the previous Bankruptcy WAS SUCCESSFUL. If your previous Bankruptcy case failed, then the time limits typically do not apply. For example, it is NOT un-common for a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy to be filed and get dismissed within a few months. That Debtor is usually not barred from filing another bankruptcy based on that failed case, even though it was just a few months prior. That being said, there can be other negative side effects with having too many Bankruptcy filings.
^^Example: If you filed chapter 13 on August 1, 2012 and the bankruptcy was completed on August 1, 2017, then you are eligible to file a chapter 7 only 6 years after the initial filing date of the chapter 13, or August 1, 2018.
### You are allowed to file chapter 13 Bankruptcy more often than the time periods mentioned here. HOWEVER, you may not be eligible for a discharge from your debts under those circumstances. Then Why File? A benefit to filing Chapter 13 Bankruptcy even though you may not be eligible for discharge is to stop expensive wage garnishments, or otherwise take control of your out-of-control debt situation.
This blog contains the general rules. As always, there are exceptions built into the Bankruptcy Code to account for unique circumstances, both good and bad. Consult a Bankruptcy Attorney to learn about your ability to file a Bankruptcy with your individual circumstances.