Can you file bankruptcy a second time?

If you have previously filed for bankruptcy, you may believe that you cannot file again. This is not the case.

The United States Bankruptcy Code imposes time limits between filings depending upon which chapter you use in each claim. Here is some insight into the regulations on multiple bankruptcies.

How long must you wait between bankruptcy filings?

The Bankruptcy Code requires filers to wait before making additional claims. The mandatory time between filings depends on which chapter the person has previously filed and plans to file currently. Wait times exist to prevent system abuse. You must prove that you made your best effort to pay bankruptcy debts between filings. The timeframes between bankruptcies are as follows:

  • 8 years between two Chapter 7 bankruptcies
  • 4 years between a Chapter 7 and subsequent Chapter 13 bankruptcy
  • 6 years or payment in full on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy followed by a Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • 2 years between two Chapter 13 bankruptcies

Why file a different chapter in subsequent bankruptcies?

Because the bankruptcy chapter you choose can affect your repayment plan, the amount of debt you owe and the length of time the bankruptcy appears on your credit report, it can be wise to consult an attorney to help you navigate the process.

For example, if you switch from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, when you repay all unsecured debt to creditors, a court may waive the waiting period. In certain instances, you must repay only 70% of the debt before the court grants a waiver.

Bankruptcy law is complex, especially when filing multiple times. Be sure you understand your obligations before moving forward.