One question clients ask bankruptcy attorneys is whether someone can file bankruptcy again if they already have done so in the past. The short answer is yes, it is possible to file again. There are, however, some restrictions dictating how long one must wait to file.
In 2005, changes to the Bankruptcy Code put these restrictions in place. The requirements for time passed between one filing and the next depends on two things: the chapter of bankruptcy filed the first time, and the chapter being presently filed. Let’s take a look at options based on the original filing.
If You Filed Chapter 7 First
If you have already filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, and would like to petition to file Chapter 7 again, you will need to wait eight years. This chapter is known as “liquidation bankruptcy”: creditors are repaid for their loans through the sale of non-exempt assets. These repayments are generally only for an agreed-upon portion of the actual amount owed, but the debt is forgiven nonetheless.
Want to file Chapter 13 this time?
While Chapter 7 is the most common type of consumer bankruptcy, it is possible in some cases to file for Chapter 13. A person can petition to file this “restructuring” bankruptcy just four years after filing Chapter 7. An attorney can help determine if Chapter 13 makes sense for your situation if it hasn’t yet been eight years since you first filed bankruptcy.
If You Filed Chapter 13 First
Now, if your first bankruptcy filing was Chapter 13, the wait times are a little different. You will need to wait six years after filing Chapter 13 to petition to file for Chapter 7. If filing Chapter 13 again is more suited to your debt relief needs, you’ll be pleased to find that there is a much shorter wait to do so: re-filing for Chapter 13 only requires a two-year time period in between filings.
What’s Right for You?
While there are many forms of debt relief, some don’t require filing bankruptcy at all. If you’re wondering whether bankruptcy is right for you, it’s probably time to speak to an experienced attorney who can discuss all of your options with you. By listening to your financial circumstances, an attorney can create a customized plan of action just for you.