When Can You File For Bankruptcy Again If You Already Filed

Bankruptcy is a complex process, and some folks end up filing more than once in their lifetimes. However, the bankruptcy code limits how soon you can file again.

If you've previously filed for bankruptcy and the court discharged any debts, the law allows you to file again after a specified period. This period depends on the kind of bankruptcy you successfully pursued. If you didn't receive a discharge, however, you can file for bankruptcy again immediately. Let's look at several of the most common scenarios.

Filing After a Chapter 7 Case

If a judge previously discharged at least some of your debts in Chapter 7, you have to wait 8 years after the date of your prior filing to petition for Chapter 7 again. This applies on a per-case basis so the clock resets each time a person successfully files for Chapter 7.

Someone who wishes to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy must wait four years from the date they filed a successful Chapter 7 petition. There is a scenario where you can file for Chapter 13 immediately after concluding a Chapter 7 case. However, it is complex, and you should hire a bankruptcy attorney to assist you. Also, you should inform the court at the start of the Chapter 7 case so there is no confusion about your intentions.

After a Chapter 13 Case

If a judge discharged your debts from a previous Chapter 13 case, you must wait 6 years from the previous filing date before filing Chapter 7. However, you can file for Chapter 7 sooner if your repayment plan fails despite a good-faith effort. A judge has the power to waive the 6-year requirement if you've paid at least 70% of the unsecured debts in the previous case. Also, you must have made your best effort to pay according to the original restructuring plan.

After a previous successful Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing, you must wait two years from the time you filed before filing for Chapter 13 again. You can petition the court as many times as necessary in your lifetime.

Chapter 11 filings for businesses follow the same patterns as Chapter 13 filings for individuals. The same applies to Chapter 12 cases for family farms and fishing operations too.

If You Withdraw a Petition

The courts wish to deter abuse of multiple filings. If you need to withdraw a petition so you can refile, have a bankruptcy lawyer handle the paperwork and motions to avoid creating the appearance of abuse of the system.