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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

While bankruptcy offers long-lasting debt relief for many filers, some individuals find themselves traveling the bankruptcy path more than once.

In a strict sense, there is no limit on the number of times you can file bankruptcy.

There are, however, limits on how soon after a bankruptcy you can file again, and whether you'll be able to discharge certain debts after you've already filed before.

Each case is unique. If you're considering filing again, talk to a lawyer about any possible restrictions you may have:

Limits on Filing Multiple Bankruptcies

While you are usually allowed to file bankruptcy more than once in your life, there are important limits on the time between your cases. As a result, if you try to file bankruptcy shortly after a previous bankruptcy case ends, you may not be happy with the results.

Some of the limits on multiple discharges are as follows:

  • You typically cannot file a Chapter 7 case if you have received a discharge under a Chapter 7 case within the last 8 years, or a Chapter 13 case filed within the last 6 years.
  • Typically, these time periods are measured from the start of your prior bankruptcy proceeding, not the date your debt was actually eliminated.

So, these limits do prevent filers from seeking the court's help in discharging debts in a brief period of time. They also provide a strong disincentive for individuals to file bankruptcy within 8 years of their last appearance in bankruptcy court.

There are also other rules that reduce the benefits of filing a second bankruptcy. Some of these aim to reduce the benefit of the automatic stay for people who recently dismissed a pending bankruptcy case.

Thus, if you file multiple times for the same type of bankruptcy in a short period of time, but dismiss those claims, you will not be able to enjoy the full benefits of the automatic stay.

Finally, a court can prevent you from filing a new bankruptcy case for 180 days if your first case was dismissed due to your failure to abide by a court order or, in some cases, if you requested the dismissal.

Preventing Bankruptcy in the Future

As detailed above, filing multiple bankruptcies is possible, but it is often not the best course of action. Instead of wondering "how often can you file bankruptcy," you may instead consider preventing future bankruptcies.

In order to keep your debt at a manageable level, consider taking these steps:

  • Prevent credit card debt. Avoid high interest rates and owning multiple cards. If you are able to do so, pay off your full bill each month.
  • Budget, budget, budget. Setting a monthly spending limit and sticking to it can save financial headaches down the road.
  • Save for a rainy day. Put a bit of money aside each month and build an emergency cash reserve.

While debt seems to be an inevitable part of modern life, it does not have to sink your finances. To learn more about living a debt-free life, or to determine how you can file for bankruptcy, contact a local bankruptcy lawyer today.


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