Many debtors find after they have filed a previous bankruptcy that they need to file a second time. Recently on our bankruptcy forum we had a debtor ask, “Can I file bankruptcy again if I have filed in the past?” This blog will address issues of filing bankruptcy a second time.
Filing bankruptcy a second time
Bankruptcy laws do not set a specific time limit for filing bankruptcy a second time but they do limit how soon you can receive a discharge of your debts after you have received a previous discharge. Obviously, this means that unless you have waited the necessary length of time after your first discharge, filing again could be a waste of time.
Filing Bankruptcy a second time depends on what type of bankruptcy you filed in the past
Filing bankruptcy a second time will depend on what type of bankruptcy you filed the first time. Bankruptcy laws can be complicated. Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer if you have questions about your ability to file another case. General details are below.
Filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy and received a discharge:
- You cannot receive a second Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge until 8 years have passed since your previous Chapter 7 filing date.
- You cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge unless 4 years have passed from your previous Chapter 7 filing date.
Filed Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and received a discharge:
- You cannot receive a Chapter 7 discharge until 6 years have passed from your previous Chapter 13 filing date.
- You cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge until 2 years have passed from your previous Chapter 13 filing date.
Bankruptcy discharge not received after filing bankruptcy
If you have filed bankruptcy in the past but you did not receive a discharge of your debts you generally can file a second time without waiting.
What if my first bankruptcy case was dismissed?
If your first bankruptcy case was dismissed, unless the court declares otherwise, you can file your case immediately. If, however, the court dismissed your case because you did not obey a court order, you did not appear in court, or you voluntarily dismissed the case after a creditor filed a motion for relief of the stay you will have to wait 180 days. Exceptions may exist in some cases so this should be discussed with a bankruptcy lawyer.
What if my discharge was denied after filing bankruptcy?
In some cases after the bankruptcy petition is filed the bankruptcy trustee or a creditor may file a complaint outlining why a debtor should not have their debts discharged. Reasons for a discharge refusal are outlined under federal bankruptcy laws (under 11 U.S.C. section 727) but generally involve lying on the bankruptcy petition and failing to keep financial records. A court hearing is held to evaluate the complaint. If the judge agrees with the complaint and makes a judgment against you they will deny your discharge. Talk to a bankruptcy lawyer about your options to refile if your discharge was denied.
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