How often can I file for Chapter 7 and 13 Bankruptcy?
Generally, a person can file for bankruptcy as many times as they want in their lifetime. However, there are time restrictions for how often a person can file for bankruptcy relief. The different time limits between filings depend on whether the debtor files for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy and the chronological order in which the person chooses to file. The disposition of a previous bankruptcy filing may make a difference as well, because a problem with a prior bankruptcy may prevent a debtor from filing again.
Filing for relief after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge:
If a debtor previously filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy relief and a court discharged debts on their behalf, they have an eight (8) year waiting period before they can successfully file for Chapter 7 again. If a debtor filed a Chapter 7 case previously and needs additional relief after filing but before 8 years, chapter 13 is an option. A person can file chapter 13 just 4 years after their bankruptcy discharge under chapter 7, and still receive a discharge of a portion of their unsecured debts in a chapter 13, just like in a 7. Chapter 13 can be an excellent remedy to consolidate secured debt payments into one easy monthly payment at reduced rates of interest, often only 4% in the plan for vehicles and other secured debts.
A person is ineligible for any relief under any chapter for a period of at least 4 years from filing, when they have filed under chapter 7 and received a prior discharge. A chapter 13 discharge is available after 4 years from the prior chapter 7. It is a great way to get a fresh start and discharge of usually 90 percent or more of one’s unsecured debts just like in a 7, and buy your vehicles or other items like furniture at a reduced rate of interest in the plan, usually only 4 percent. .
Filing Again after a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Discharge:
A person must wait two years after a Chapter 13 filing in order to receive another discharge in a subsequent Chapter 13 filing. It’s important to keep in mind that a Chapter 13 plan usually includes three to five years of payments under the terms of the plan. If a person needs relief prior to the expiration of two years from the date of filing of the prior chapter 13 case, a subsequent Chapter 13 case can be filed, so long as the debtor understands that no discharge will be issued upon completion of the case, if filed within the two year waiting period.
The waiting period for filing a Chapter 7 after a Chapter 13 is six years. The date that matters is the date that the debtor filed their Chapter 13 case. There are, however, important exceptions to this waiting period. That is, if the debtor pays 100% of their unsecured debts or seventy percent or more of unsecured debts as part of a good-faith repayment plan, the six year waiting period doesn’t apply.
If a person doesn’t fulfill the requirements of a bankruptcy filing, the court may dismiss their case with prejudice. This can happen when a person takes steps to delay creditors, fails to comply with court orders or otherwise unfairly tries to take advantage of the bankruptcy laws. Usually, this results in a dismissal of the bankruptcy and a six-month waiting period before refiling of any kind. In cases of fraud, the court can bar a future bankruptcy for a longer period, or they can prevent the debtor from ever discharging certain debts.
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