Filing Bankruptcy Again: Can I File Chapter 13 If I Already Filed Chapter 7?

It is not uncommon for someone to file multiple bankruptcy cases.  Most people assume that filing bankruptcy is a one-time pass to get out of debt but this is not the case.  You can file bankruptcy again.  When Congress enacted the Bankruptcy Code, it did not limit the number of times a person can file for bankruptcy relief.  Unfortunately, anyone can experience a financial crisis at any time, and hard times are not limited to once in a lifetime.

Some individuals face several financial trials several times during their life.  A person may experience a sudden illness that results in thousands of medical bills they cannot pay.  Years later, that same person loses his or her spouse and struggles to make ends meet on one income.  Regardless of the reason, even simple money mistakes, bankruptcy law does not prevent a person from filing bankruptcy again.

Filing Bankruptcy Again After Receiving a Bankruptcy Discharge

While the Bankruptcy Code does not prohibit you from filing bankruptcy again, it does prevent you from receiving another bankruptcy discharge for a specific period of time.  Because the bankruptcy discharge eliminates your debt, filing bankruptcy without receiving the discharge does not help you get out of debt.  However, if you wait the required time between bankruptcy filings, you are eligible to receive another bankruptcy discharge.

Below is a summary of the time required between bankruptcy discharges:

Prior Bankruptcy          New Bankruptcy          Time Between Filings

Chapter 13 case             Chapter 13 case             2 years

Chapter 7 case               Chapter 13 case             4 years

Chapter 13 case             Chapter 13 case             6 years

Chapter 7 case               Chapter 7 case               8 years

Seek the Advice of a Bankruptcy Attorney

Therefore, if you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case and you want to file a new Chapter 13 case, you must wait four years between the filing date of the Chapter 7 case and the new Chapter 13 case in order to be eligible for a bankruptcy discharge.  It is in your best interest to discuss your financial situation with an experienced bankruptcy attorney because there are always exceptions to the general rule.

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