How Frequently Can One File Personal bankruptcy?

How Frequently Can One File Personal bankruptcy?

Often times clients ask me if they can file bankruptcy twice. There seems to be the mistaken belief among many people, attorneys included, that you cannot file bankruptcy twice or that the Federal Law places a specific limit on the number of times that you can file bankruptcy.

Actually, the limits on bankruptcy are not on the number of times that you can file. Rather, The limits on filing bankruptcy are not so much on the number of times that you can “file” but rather on how often you can get a “discharge” of your debts in a bankruptcy case that you have filed. For example, you can file Chapter 7 this year, get a discharge, then file Chapter 13 in two years and the Court will allow the filing. However, you may not be eligible to receive a discharge in the subsequent case.

There is a complex set of rules that apply. For example, you can receive a Chapter 7 discharge 8 years after a Chapter 7 filing and 6 years after a Chapter 13 filing. You would need to consult with a highly experienced bankruptcy lawyer who has a strong command of the relevant rules to answer this question properly. In the Chapter 13 context the waiting periods to obtain a discharge are shorter, meaning you have to wait less time after a bankruptcy filing to be able to file a Chapter 13 and obtain a discharge of your debts in that Chapter 13 case. The rules differ depending upon whether your prior case was a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 case.

There are rules that provide that if you file multiple bankruptcies you receive less benefits in the subsequently filed bankruptcies, such as reduced or non-existent bankruptcy automatic stay, which would primarily affect a Chapter 13 case and not a Chapter 7 case because Chapter 13 is usually filed to obtain the benefit of the automatic stay and stop a foreclosure.

So if you are considering bankruptcy and need to file a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy (or under any other Chapter, such as Chapter 13), make sure your lawyer understands that the limits on bankruptcy filings mainly address the number of discharges that you can obtain in given period of time and not the number of times that you can file for bankruptcy protection.

So, as you can see, there are many factors that affect whether or not you can file bankruptcy again and what type of relief is available in your subsequent bankruptcy. If you did not receive a discharge in your subsequent bankruptcy, it is very likely that you can file another bankruptcy right away and obtain a discharge of your debts. If you did receive a discharge in your subsequent bankruptcy, then you will have to wait the required number of years in order to obtain a discharge again.

Categories: Bankruptcy

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