Can You File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy More Than Once?
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Can You File Chapter 7 More Than Once?

Individuals may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy more than once, but they must wait at least 8 years after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge to start another Chapter 7 proceeding.

There is not, however, a limit on the number of times a person may file for Chapter 7, and there is certainly no penalty for seeking the protection of bankruptcy more than once.

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Filing for Chapter 7 More Than Once in Your Life

As required by the 2005 Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, bankruptcy filers must wait at least 8 years to file for Chapter 7 after a previous Chapter 7 filing.

If, however, a person files for Chapter 7 and later wishes to file for Chapter 13, he or she will also have to wait a specific amount of time after the initial filing to start a new claim for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

In addition to the 8 year time limit between Chapter 7 filings, there are other restrictions that come into play when filing for Chapter 7. These include:

  • Means test. A filer must pass a Chapter 7 means test first, which simply compares a person's income to the median income in their state, before filing for Chapter 7. This means test must be met for each Chapter 7 filing.
  • Court errors. If bankruptcy filers have a case dismissed because they failed to comply with a court order, or forgot to show up for a court date, they cannot file a new Chapter 7 claim until 180 days after their claim was dismissed.
  • Credit counseling. People who file for bankruptcy must also receive credit counseling at least 180 days before filing.

These restrictions are intended to reserve Chapter 7 for people who need it most, and to ensure that they receive the benefits of Chapter 7 debt relief.

Potential Benefits of Filing Chapter 7 More Than Once

During a person’s first Chapter 7 bankruptcy, a number of unsecured debts may be eliminated, including medical bills, credit card debt, and utility bills. Some filers, however, may accrue further debts after their initial Chapter 7 experience.

When a person files for Chapter 7 for a second time, they may be eligible to receive all the benefits of Chapter 7, including:

  • Stopping aggressive creditors from trying to collect old debts
  • Discharging some or all of a filer’s unsecured debts
  • Putting a stop to wage garnishment.

These benefits, however, will not necessarily apply to every filer.

In addition, if you feel the need to file another bankruptcy, you may also seek independent credit counseling before going to bankruptcy court.

For more information on filing Chapter 7, contact a local bankruptcy attorney today.


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