How Often Can I File Bankruptcy?

If you have filed a previous bankruptcy and you received a discharge, the Bankruptcy Code specifies certain time limits as to when you can file bankruptcy again and obtain a discharge. If your case was closed or dismissed, however, and you did not obtain a discharge in your previous bankruptcy case, then you can file another bankruptcy again without restriction. The following time limits are built into the Bankruptcy Code.

Previous Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you have previously received a Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge, you can file bankruptcy again and be entitled to another discharge in the following situations:

  • Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you need to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after you have obtained a Chapter 7 discharge, you will have to wait 8 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The 8 year time period starts from the date that you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Example: if you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy in May of 2004, then you would be eligible to file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in May of 2012.
  • Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after your have obtained a Chapter 7 discharge, you will need to wait 4 years to obtain a complete discharge. There are certain situations in which it may be advantageous for you to file a Chapter 13 right after a Chapter 7, even if you cannot obtain a full discharge in the subsequent Chapter 13. If you file within 4 years, however, any unsecured debts not discharged in the previous Chapter 7 will also not be discharged in the Chapter 13. The 4 year time period starts to run from the date you filed your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Example: If you filed your Chapter 7 in June of 2008, then you would be eligible to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in June of 2012.

Previous Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you have previously received a Chapter 13 bankruptcy discharge, you can file bankruptcy again and be entitled to another discharge in the following situations:

  • Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: If you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy after you have received a Chapter 13 discharge, you will need to wait 6 years from the date of filing your Chapter 13 bankruptcy to receive a full discharge. You may be able to obtain a full discharge of your unsecured debts in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, even if you file within 6 years, but you must have paid your unsecured creditors 70% or more during your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Otherwise, you will need to wait at least 6 years from the date of filing your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a discharge. Example: If you filed your Chapter 13 in July of 2006, then you would be eligible for to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in July of 2012.
  • Filing a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: If you need to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy after you have received a Chapter 13 discharge, you will need to wait 2 years from the date of filing of your previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Example: If you filed your Chapter 13 in August of 2010, then you would be eligible to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy and obtain a complete discharge in August of 2012.

If you file a new bankruptcy case before the statutory time period has elapsed since your previous bankruptcy, you will not be able to obtain a complete discharge of your debts in your new bankruptcy case. Achieving the maximum benefit from the bankruptcy discharge should be your main goal for filing a D.C. or Virginia bankruptcy. Consult an experienced bankruptcy attorney to ensure that all of your eligible debts are discharged in your bankruptcy. Call Lee Legal at (202) 448-5136 or or (703) 879-2870 for more information.

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