Can I Declare Bankruptcy Twice?

Sat, Aug 8, 2015


15731043235_4c530c12f2_oSure! Actually, you can file it more than twice, but let’s hope you don’t have to.

There are many rules and regulations regarding bankruptcy, including time constraints between filings. In addition, the way your previous bankruptcy is disposed may affect your ability to file again, or may greatly restrict a new filing. Dishonesty during bankruptcy proceedings could definitely affect your ability to file again. The bankruptcy court frowns heavily on dishonesty, and can bring charges of fraud, other criminal investigation, imprisonment, or denial of your discharge.

You can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy and then file it again. You can also file Chapter 13 and then file it again. You can switch them up, filing one type one time and then alternating with the other type.

So, let’s say you want to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy but you have filed it previously. You would have to wait at least 2 years from the first filing to file again. This can end up being much longer than 2 years after your filed though, because Chapter 13 bankruptcy involves a payment plan to pay back creditors.

If you filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, you have to wait 8 years from the time you filed to file it again. This would be a different timeline from the Chapter 13 filing, as Chapter 7 bankruptcy does not involve a repayment plan.

If you are going to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy after filing Chapter 7, you are going to file what is sometimes known as Chapter 20 bankruptcy. This is a strategy that can allow you to discharge some debts using Chapter 7 bankruptcy and then use Chapter 13 to pay back some of the remaining debts you have for a mortgage or similar type of debt. The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing would need to be done at least 4 years after filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Chapter 20 is a good solution for many who need to reduce their debt considerably so they are able to pay down debts on certain assets. It also allows for lien stripping.

Finally, filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy after filing Chapter 13 is possible with a 6-year wait from the time you filed Chapter 13. However, there are a few exceptions that you should discuss with your attorney to see if you qualify.

Sometimes a bankruptcy case is dismissed without being discharged. This can mean nothing was resolved, and sometimes this will require a new waiting period. In addition, if your bankruptcy was previously dismissed, you must understand that it could be difficult to get the same debts discharged with a new filing. Make sure you evaluate your situation carefully prior to trying again. If legal counsel led you astray resulting in a dismissal, make sure you investigate further options.

As always, check with a bankruptcy attorney to make sure bankruptcy laws haven’t changed in regard to filing again and if you are truly ready to file. Technicalities can always prevent your filing even if within the usual guidelines.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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