Financial distress can sometimes linger like a bad cold that you cannot shake. What happens if you need to file for bankruptcy a second time.
Can you do so immediately?
Or are there waiting periods?
Let’s look more specifically at the question posed in the title of this article: Can I file a chapter 7 bankruptcy if I filed 6 years ago?
The answer is YES — but that is only half of the story. Although you may file for bankruptcy again, the real question is what can you achieve in the second case?
Most consumer debtors file for bankruptcy to get a discharge of debt. If a discharge cannot be achieved, then for the vast majority of debtors, it makes no sense to file for bankruptcy.
If the Prior Case Was a Chapter 7 Case
If your prior case was (a) a chapter 7 case, (b) filed within 8 years before the second chapter 7 case, and (c) was a case in which you were granted a discharge, you most assuredly can file for bankruptcy again, BUT YOU CANNOT GET A DISCHARGE IN THE SECOND CHAPTER 7 CASE.
You can only get a second chapter 7 discharge if the second case was filed eight (8) years or more after the petition date in the first case in which you were granted a discharge.
If, on the other hand, your prior chapter 7 case did not result in a discharge, you can file away without delay and still hope for a discharge in the second chapter 7 case.
If the Prior Case Was a Chapter 13 Case
What if your prior case was a chapter 13 case? Here the matter is a little more complicated.
You cannot get a discharge in a subsequently filed chapter 7 case if your prior chapter 13 case was commenced within six (6) years of the chapter 7 filing — unless payments under your chapter 13 case totaled at least 100% of the unsecured claims in the chapter 13 case or 70% of such claims and the plan was proposed in good faith and was the debtor’s best effort.
Stated differently, you generally have to wait for 6 years to file a chapter 7 case after a chapter 13 case in which you were granted a discharge.
If, as before, you did not get a discharge in the prior chapter 13 case, you can file away without delay and still hope for a discharge in the subsequently filed chapter 7 case.
A subsequent post will discuss limitations when the second case is a case under chapter 13 of the Bankruptcy Code.
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