If you have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, you may be wondering about when you are able to file for bankruptcy again. Filing for bankruptcy can happen at any time, but the filing will not be successful unless you observe certain rules in place for multiple filings. If you are considering another Chapter 7 filing, here are a few items to consider:
Successive Chapter 7 Filings
According to bankruptcy code, after successfully filing for bankruptcy protection and receiving a discharge under Chapter 7 you must wait eight years before receiving another successful discharge. There is a technicality here to be aware of: you can file for Chapter 7 again the day after your discharge, but the filing will not be successful until eight years have passed since that discharge date. In other words, the eight year period starts at the time of discharge, rather than at the time of filing.
There are other options if you find yourself in financial straits before the eight year period between discharges has elapsed, however. For example, if you have received discharge under Chapter 7 and four years have passed since that discharge, you are eligible to receive a discharge under Chapter 13 debt reorganization. If you previously filed under Chapter 13, you must wait six years before becoming eligible to receive a discharge by filing for Chapter 7 protection. There are exceptions to this six-year rule as well, however.
In special circumstances, it sometimes makes sense for a person to file for Chapter 13 immediately after receiving their Chapter 7 discharge, despite the fact that filing for bankruptcy cannot legally result in another discharge. This process is common enough to have its own informal moniker, Chapter 20, but is only useful in very specialized instances, such as when you have debt that cannot be discharged in Chapter 7 but wish to have further bankruptcy protection while working to repay that debt.
After receiving a discharge in Chapter 7, there is always a waiting period before you are able to receive a second discharge. However, if in filing for bankruptcy your discharge was denied for some reason, in most cases you are free to file again right away. If the case was dismissed due to some failure of compliance on your part, the court may impose a 180 day waiting period before your second filing. If the first Chapter 7 was denied, it is not likely that your second case will be able to discharge debts from the first case.