How Often Can You File for Bankruptcy?
Often, successful completion of a single bankruptcy case is enough to put a debtor back into solvency, but there may be further financial crises in store that require additional filings. There is no limit to the number of times you may file for bankruptcy, but there are limits on how often you can do it.
The time limits for refiling vary depending on a number of factors. The most important factors are whether you were discharged in the prior bankruptcy, the type of bankruptcy you filed and the type intend to file next. There are two primary types of bankruptcy used by individual debtors:
- Chapter 7 (liquidation) — In this proceeding, the debtor’s property is sold off to pay creditors, except for assets that are exempt from sale.
- Chapter 13 (reorganization) — This allows individuals to pay off a part of their debt over time under a court-approved plan.
If you received a discharge in the prior bankruptcy, the time you must wait before filing a new one begins on the date the original bankruptcy was filed. The time limits are as follows:
- Between two Chapter 7 bankruptcies — eight years
- Between a prior Chapter 7 and a subsequent Chapter 13 bankruptcy — four years
- Between two Chapter 13 bankruptcies — two years (This timeline is rare, because Chapter 13 plans last three to five years.)
- Between a prior Chapter 13 and a subsequent Chapter 7 bankruptcy — six years, if less than 70 percent of the claims in the prior bankruptcy were paid or if the Chapter 13 bankruptcy plan was not in good faith or was not the debtor’s best effort. Otherwise, you may refile immediately.
The time limits are different if your earlier case was dismissed or you withdrew it. In those circumstances, you must complete a court-approved credit counseling course within 180 days before refiling. Once you do so, you may normally refile immediately. However, if the court dismissed your case because you violated the bankruptcy court’s orders or failed to appear before the court as required, you may be barred from refiling for 180 days after the dismissal. If it is determined that you filed a prior bankruptcy solely to frustrate your creditors, the court may bar you from refiling for one year.
A qualified bankruptcy lawyer can explain how these time limits may affect you and how to obtain the best available relief without unnecessary delay. Your attorney will also represent you in the bankruptcy proceeding itself.
The Law Offices of Michael Jay Berger in Beverly Hills is one of southern California’s most experienced bankruptcy law firms. If you have been through a bankruptcy and again find yourself in financial distress, contact us online or call 310-271-6223 to schedule a consultation.