How Often Can You File For Bankruptcy?

Memphis Bankruptcy, Social Security Disability & Long Term Disability Attorney

If you’ve been through bankruptcy before, you may be familiar with the process and understand how it can help you financially. If you are looking for a second bankruptcy, chances are you are overwhelmed with your financial situation and are looking for a solution. If you’re looking to file again you may be wondering when you can file a second bankruptcy. 

There is no limit on how many times you can file for bankruptcy, but there is a limit on how many times you can qualify for a discharge on debts. If you file too soon after clearing debt in a previous case then you won’t be eligible for another discharge. So the question is not so much how often can you file for bankruptcy, but how often can you file and receive a discharge to clear your debts?

Consulting with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer may help. John Dunlap has been working with Chapter 13, Chapter 11, and Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases for many years. Call today for a free 30 minute strategy session to discuss your case. 

Filing Bankruptcy a Second Time

If you are looking to file bankruptcy for the second time, it is important to know the guidelines and limitations before trying to file again.

However, depending on when you file bankruptcy, you may not be able to get some debts discharged or forgiveness. Most people looking to file bankruptcy are doing so in order to wipe out large debts and gain financial relief. If you file bankruptcy too soon, you may be wasting your time and money if you can’t get debt forgiveness.

Depending on what your bankruptcy case is, you may have different time limits after your previous bankruptcy discharge. Different types of bankruptcies have different types of time frames that you should know about: 

  • Chapter 7: If you are discharged from your Chapter 7 filing, you will need to wait eight years before filing bankruptcy again.
  • Chapter 13: The time period for a Chapter 13 case is between 3 to 5 years. If you filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you usually have to wait 2 years before filing for a second bankruptcy. 

However, if you are considering filing a Chapter 13 case after being discharged from Chapter 7, you may only be required to wait four years between each filing. If you are wanting to file a Chapter 7 after you have been discharged from a Chapter 13 case, you will have to wait six years. However, if you have paid all of your unsecured debts in Chapter 13, the six year rule may not apply.

If you are wondering about whether or not you should file bankruptcy a second time, consulting with an attorney may provide some clarity and help you understand how rules apply in your individual case. John Dunlap offers free 30 minute strategy sessions to discuss your bankruptcy case. 

Why Should I File Bankruptcy Again?

Sometimes, you don’t need a discharge, you just need time to pay off a debt. For instance, suppose that you owed federal taxes that you couldn’t discharge in bankruptcy and you were unable to work out a reasonable payment plan. In this case, rather than have your wages taken away, you could file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and stretch out the payments over a 3 to 5 year period depending on the bankruptcy payment plan. 

You also have the opportunity to file a Chapter 13 case immediately after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge. A common reason to do so is to gain additional time to pay off nondischargeable debts, like any new bills that you might acquire after your initial bankruptcy filing. However, not all courts will allow you to file a second bankruptcy. It can be tricky to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and then demonstrate that you have an adequate income to pay into a Chapter 13 plan. 

Although there are times that it makes sense to file for bankruptcy even though you won’t receive a discharge, these situations are rare. Because a bankruptcy filed too soon will end up being a waste of time and money in most cases, it’s important to know how to time your bankruptcy filing. 

Can I File Again Before Being Discharged?

For most bankruptcy cases, you have to wait to be discharged before filing again. However, there are times when filing one bankruptcy after the other may benefit your financial situation. 

If you are looking to take care of additional debts that were not addressed in your Chapter 7 case, you may be able to immediately file for Chapter 13 after your Chapter 7 discharge. For example, if you have certain debts that did not get wiped out or discharged in a Chapter 7, you may be able to file Chapter 13 and get them paid off in a repayment plan. 

Will the automatic stay still work?

One of the biggest benefits to bankruptcy is the automatic stay that stops creditors from collecting money or assets from you during your bankruptcy period. However, filing bankruptcy too soon after being discharged could have an impact on your automatic stay. 

While there is no limit on the amount of times you can file for bankruptcy, you may lose the full benefits of the automatic stay, the order that stops creditors from collecting, when you file multiple cases in quick succession. 

If you file bankruptcy within one year of being discharged, the automatic stay will be limited to 30 days. Rather than getting protection from creditors and collectors throughout the entire bankruptcy period, you will have limited time before the automatic stay is lifted and creditors are able to begin collecting debts again. 

Regardless, your case depends on your bankruptcy court and your situation. If for some reason you did not receive a discharge from your first case filing, you will still be able to file again a second time. However, the automatic stay is also limited or does not apply if you reapply after being denied. 

Considering Filing Bankruptcy Again? Talk to Our Bankruptcy Lawyer

If you are wondering whether or not a second bankruptcy is the right option for you and your financial matters, consulting with an attorney may help. John Dunlap is an experienced attorney who works with multiple bankruptcy clients to help them get on the right track. Call today for a free 30 minute strategy session to discuss the complexities of your case.