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 are 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.
This table summarizes the waiting time for filing Chapter 7 or 13, based upon the type of filing of the first bankruptcy.
|Type of first filing||Waiting time to file Chapter 7||Waiting time to file Chapter 13|
|Chapter 7||8 years||4 years|
|Chapter 13||6 years||2 years|
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