Bankruptcy has helped countless numbers of people restore their life and work their way back to financial independence. However, sometimes things don't always work out. Despite a discharge of debts, some people's situation may once again decline, placing them back in debt and forcing them to consider filing for a second time. Can you file bankruptcy twice, and if so, how long do you have to wait? Let's look at the answer to these important questions.
Filing for a Second Bankruptcy
First, some good news: there is no waiting period for filing a second bankruptcy. You could theoretically file for bankruptcy a second time the day after filing your first (though you'd never want or need to). However, there's a catch: while you can file for bankruptcy again, your second filing will not be eligible for a debt discharge until a certain amount of time has passed. How long depends on several factors, including what chapter you initially filed or whether or not you're filing for the same chapter this second time around.
- Chapter 7 Cases: If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy before, then you are ineligible for a second discharge until eight years have passed. The date used for this deadline is the date that the first case was initially filed.
- Chapter 13 cases: When filing for a successive Chapter 13 case, you can't receive a second discharge until at least two years have passed, but filing between two and six years can get confusing. If the court refuses to confirm your plan in the second case, you may be required to convert to a Chapter 7 in order to receive a discharge. However, this brings in some even more complex rules.
It's important to file the right type of bankruptcy for your needs, and that means you may not necessarily file the same bankruptcy chapter twice in a row. If you filed for Chapter 7 before and are instead filing for Chapter 13 this time, or vice versa, you need to consider these rules:
- Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: If your first discharge was granted, you must wait six years before you can be granted a discharge under Chapter 7, unless you either paid all your unsecured creditors in full under the initial Chapter 13 filing or you paid at least 70 percent of the claims and your plan was proposed in good faith.
- Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: if your first discharge was granted under Chapter 7, you must wait four years before filing for Chapter 13 in order to be eligible for a discharge, but once again the court must confirm your plan.