When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?
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When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?

When tough economic times grip a nation with the persistence we’ve seen in the past few years, more people than ever find themselves turning to bankruptcy for relief from overwhelming debt. And, if you're among the financially distressed wondering when you might be eligible to file bankruptcy, you are not alone.

Bankruptcy laws put strict restrictions on repeat bankruptcy filings, especially the amount of time until you can file again. If you have a bankruptcy in your past and are in need of bankruptcy protection once again, your options may be limited.

To speak with a bankruptcy lawyer about multiple bankruptcy filings, fill out this form:

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Can You File Bankruptcy Again?

The good news is that bankruptcy laws do not put a limit on the number of times a person can file bankruptcy. Just because you've filed once, you may still be able to file again if you truly need to.

However, in most cases, a certain amount of time must pass between filings. The answer to the question of when you can file bankruptcy again depends on what type of bankruptcy you filed in your last case.

Here's an outline of some of the federal restrictions on multiple filings:

  • Eight years between two Chapter 7 cases: If the first bankruptcy case was a Chapter 7 case and a debtor is interested in filing under Chapter 7 again, he or she will have to wait at least eight years to do so. This is the longest time restriction between bankruptcy filings, largely because the protection offered by Chapter 7 bankruptcy is so sweeping and generally requires filers to repay very little (if anything) to their creditors.
  • Four years between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 case: If the first bankruptcy was a Chapter 7 and the debtor now wants to file under Chapter 13, a four year waiting period is required from the Chapter 7 discharge until the Chapter 13 filing. But note that Chapter 13 cases take from three to five years to run their course, which means a filer does not, in most cases, get a bankruptcy discharge until several years after filing.
  • Two years between two Chapter 13 cases: Those who previously filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and are interested in filing for it again will have to wait two years after the first Chapter 13 discharge to open a new Chapter 13 case.
  • Six years between a Chapter 13 and a Chapter 7 discharge: If the first bankruptcy case was a Chapter 13 and the debtor is now seeking protection from a Chapter 7 case, there is a six year waiting period between the two cases.

More about Multiple Bankruptcy Filings

If you have decided to file for bankruptcy protection again and aren’t yet sure what type of bankruptcy protection might best suit your finances, here’s a look at the two types of personal bankruptcy available:

  • Chapter 7 bankruptcy: This chapter, also known as "liquidation," allows filers to receive a full discharge of some or all of their unsecured debts. In other words, the court has the ability to legally excuse filers from paying certain debts not connected to any property.
  • Chapter 13 bankruptcy: This chapter, sometimes called "reorganization," grants filers a three-to-five year period to catch up on past-due debts while staying current on others that come due during that period.

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