There are usually no restrictions on the number of bankruptcy cases a person can file unless a bankruptcy court orders otherwise. However, if your debts were discharged in a previous bankruptcy, you will not be entitled to a discharge again before the expiration of a certain period of time.
Whether you can file another bankruptcy case and receive a discharge depends on:
- the type of bankruptcy case you filed previously and wish to file now,
- whether your previous bankruptcy was discharged, dismissed, or dismissed with prejudice, and
- when you filed the previous case.
Time restrictions on when you are eligible for another discharge depend on whether you previously received a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 discharge and the type of bankruptcy you want to file now.
Chapter 7 to Chapter 7. If your debts were discharged in a prior Chapter 7 case, you cannot receive a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 bankruptcy unless it is filed at least 8 years after the date you filed the previous Chapter 7 case.
Chapter 13 to Chapter 13. If your debts were discharged in a prior Chapter 13 case, you cannot receive a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 13 bankruptcy unless it is filed at least 2 years after the date you filed the previous Chapter 13 case. Because it usually takes 3 – 5 years to complete a Chapter 13 repayment plan and receive a discharge, you can typically file for another Chapter 13 bankruptcy and be eligible for a discharge immediately after your first case is closed.
Chapter 7 to Chapter 13. If your previous discharge was in a Chapter 7 case, you can file for a subsequent Chapter 13 and be eligible for a discharge if the case is filed at least 4 years after the date you filed the Chapter 7 case. However, the filing of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge can still help you pay off priority debts or get caught up on missed mortgage or car loan payments even if you are not entitled to a discharge.
Chapter 13 to Chapter 7. If your previous discharge as in a Chapter 13 case, you must wait 6 years after the date you filed the Chapter 13 before you can file for and receive a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 case. But there is an exception to this rule. The 6-year rule does not apply if, in the previous Chapter 13, you paid back:
- all of your unsecured debts, or
- at least 70% of your unsecured debts and your plan was proposed in good faith and your best effort.
For more information on debtor-creditor issues and bankruptcy law, please contact Charles Smith or Nicole Hughes at 712-309-3738.