Can I File for Bankruptcy More Than Once?

Posted By Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC || 20-Apr-2015

How Long You Have to Wait to File Again

Although bankruptcy provides a fresh start for many, it can be hard for some to stave off debt for good. Fortunately, you are not limited to filing for bankruptcy just once. Federal bankruptcy laws do not set a limit on the amount of time that you are required to wait before filing again, but there is a limit on the amount of time that you must wait before the bankruptcy court will be able to discharge your debts.

For this reason, it is important to understand the time frame, or time frames, that apply to your specific case. Otherwise, filing for bankruptcy the second time around could be a waste of your time and money. The amount of time that you will be required to wait depends on two things: the bankruptcy chapter under which you filed the first time and the chapter under which you intend to file the second time.

Filing for Bankruptcy Under the Same Chapter

If you have already filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and you intend to file under the same chapter the second time around, the time limitations that apply to your case will be as follows:

  • Successive Chapter 7 cases: you must wait at least eight years
  • Successive Chapter 13 cases: you must wait at least two years

Filing for Bankruptcy Under a Different Chapter

If you have already filed for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and you intend to file under a different chapter the second time around, the time limitations that apply to your case will be as follows:

  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: you must wait at least six years
  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: you must wait at least four years

Discharging Your Debt Isn’t Always the Goal

One of the main benefits of filing for bankruptcy is that an automatic stay will go into effect as soon as you file. This would protect you against further collection efforts and lawsuits—including debt collections, repossessions, foreclosures and wage garnishments. This gives debtors the breathing room necessary to get back on their feet. As a result, discharging debt is not always the end-goal in a bankruptcy case.

Even if you don’t qualify for a discharge of debt because of timing issues, you may still be interested in the protections that the automatic stay has to offer. However, you should also understand that the automatic stay would only last for 30 days if you have already filed for bankruptcy once in the previous year. Furthermore, if you have filed more than once in the previous year, an automatic stay would not be granted at all.

What if I didn’t receive a discharge in the first case?

If your debts were not discharged in the first bankruptcy case, you should be able to file again without having to wait; however, different action may be required if your case was denied, rather than dismissed. For example, if your original case was denied, you may not be entitled to a discharge of debts from the first case—which could render your second attempt futile.

If your case was dismissed for a failure to obey the court or a failure to appear, you may be required to wait 180 days before filing again. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is highly recommended that you seek the guidance of a Phoenix bankruptcy lawyer from Leonard V. Sominsky, ESQ., PC. Our firm has helped more than 1,000 individuals discharge their burdensome debts through bankruptcy.

Have questions about your case? Learn more about your options today by scheduling a free initial consultation with our firm!

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