For most people bankruptcy is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. In rare instances it becomes necessary to file a second or even a third time. Usually these cases are separated by several years, if not decades. But in a very small minority of cases, it becomes necessary for a person to file again within a relatively short period of time. The question is, how long does someone have to wait?
The answer depends on what kind of bankruptcy was first filed. Since Chapter 7 is the most common, we’ll look at that first.
The time between consecutive Chapter 7s is eight years, from filing date to filing date. This assumes you received a discharge in the first filing. If no discharge was received, there is no time limit, unless the reason you didn’t get a discharge is that, after someone objected to your receiving a discharge the court denied it. That’s a topic for another post. So, if you filed on August 1, 2019, and receive a discharge, you are not eligible to file another Chapter 7 for eight years, or until August 1, 2027.
You can file a Chapter 13 following a Chapter 7 within a shorter time. Again assuming you received a discharge in the Chapter 7, you can file Chapter 13 four years after filing the Chapter 7 if you want to receive another discharge. However, if you don’t want a discharge, but need protection in bankruptcy, you may file Chapter 13 anytime after your Chapter 7 is closed. Examples of why you might want to do this is that you had non-dischargeable debt (such as taxes or student loans) from the Chapter 7 and you need time to repay them; or you fell behind on mortgage payments and you need time to catch up. Filing a Chapter 13 shortly after completing a Chapter 7 is sometimes called a Chapter 20.
If you first filed a Chapter 13 and received a discharge in that case, you may file a second Chapter 13 within two years of filing the first Chapter 13. Since it is the rare Chapter 13 that is completed in less than two years, as a practical matter you can file a second Chapter 13 immediately upon completion of the first.
If you first filed Chapter 13 and received a discharge, you must wait six years from the date of filing the Chapter 13 before filing Chapter 7.
If you have bankruptcy questions or need help resolving your debts, please contact us.