This guide covers every bankruptcy scenario, answering all your questions about how often and how long you must wait when filing for bankruptcy.
The Law Does Not Limit How Often You Can File For Bankruptcy
Instead, the law requires a minimum time period between discharges from the bankruptcy court, as follows :
(Chapter 7 Bankruptcy) If your first bankruptcy discharge was a Chapter 7 case, then you cannot get a second discharge in a Chapter 7 case within eight years from the date the first Chapter 7 case was filed.
(Chapter 13 Bankruptcy) If your first bankruptcy discharge was a Chapter 13 case, then you cannot get a second discharge in a Chapter 13 case within two years from the date the first Chapter 13 case was filed. This can pose a problem if you file a second Chapter 13 bankruptcy case between the second and sixth years after the first Chapter 13 case and the bankruptcy court does not confirm your repayment plan in the second case. Most times, in a situation like this, you could convert your Chapter 13 case to a Chapter 7 case.
When You File Under Different Chapters (Chapter 13 First, Then Chapter 7)
When your file one chapter of bankruptcy and get a discharge, and then file a second chapter that is different, the order in which you file determines the timing:
If you received a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, then you cannot receive a Chapter 7 discharge in a case filed within six years from the filing date of your Chapter 13 case. You have two exceptions to the six-year waiting period. The first is if, under the Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you paid all of the unsecured creditors in full. The second exception comes if, under the Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you paid at least 70% of the claims and you proposed a good-faith plan, which you carried out in your best efforts.
When You File Under Different Chapters (Chapter 7 First, Then Chapter 13)
If you received a Chapter 7 discharge, then you cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge in a case that is filed within four years from the date your Chapter 7 case was filed. This can pose a problem if you file a second Chapter 13 bankruptcy case between the fourth and eighth year after the first Chapter 7 case and the bankruptcy court does not confirm your repayment plan in the second case. Most times, in a situation like this, you could convert your case to a Chapter 7 case.
A Second Bankruptcy Filing Might Help ... Even Without a Discharge from the First
After you get a Chapter 7 discharge, you're supposed to wait four years before filing your Chapter 13 case. However, you might benefit from filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy immediately, in what is known as a Chapter 20 bankruptcy. While you won't be able to get a bankruptcy court discharge, you will get court protection while you pay your tax debt through your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
If You Didn't Get a Discharge In Your First Bankruptcy Case
You can likely file bankruptcy again. In the case of a dismissal, you can always file your bankruptcy case again unless the bankruptcy court orders otherwise. If your case was dismissed for a specific reason, such as your failure to obey a court order or failure to appear in the case, a 180-day waiting period may apply. In the case the court denied your discharge, if this occurred, you will likely be able to file again, but you probably won't be able to discharge the debts from your first case. Make sure you discuss this situation with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer.
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