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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

If you filed for bankruptcy once and are still having financial difficulty, you’re not alone. Statistics show that 8 percent of people who file for bankruptcy have done so before. This may leave you wondering how often can you file bankruptcy and how many times can you file bankruptcy. The quick answer is yes you can file more than once, but it can get a little complicated when it comes to how often.

What can make things more tricky is the difference between a bankruptcy dismissal and a discharge. A discharge is a clean finish where you have successfully completed your bankruptcy and received an Order from the bankruptcy judge discharging your debts. WIth an Order of Discharge you will no longer be liable for your debts. When a dismissal happens, the case is dismissed and you are still liable for your debts.

We’re going to lay out the rules so that you can make a sound financial decision when it comes to filing for bankruptcy.

What Factors Contribute to How Often and How Many Times You Can File for Bankruptcy?

How many times you can file for bankruptcy will depend on the type of bankruptcy you filed, whether you received a discharge, and how long ago. The Bankruptcy Code requires a certain amount of time to pass between filings for individuals seeking a discharge of their debts. This helps to prevent people from filing for bankruptcy every few years. This also prevents people from running up high credit card balances.

Different Types of Bankruptcy

There are several different types of bankruptcy that you can file depending on your financial situation. If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it will eliminate most debt, without requiring you to repay anything. But, your non-exempt assets may be liquidated to partially repay your debts.

With Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you get to keep all of your property but will have to follow a payment plan to pay your debts. The debts that don’t get paid off from the repayment plan will need to get discharged. Once this happens, you can get a fresh financial start.

There is also Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but it is usually reserved for businesses or those with significant assets.

How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

As we mentioned above, if your goal is to receive a discharge of your debts, how often you can file for bankruptcy depends on what type you previously filed, if you received a prior discharge, and what type you plan to file now.

If you have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, received a discharge, and want to file for it again, you’ll have to wait 8 years. Under the Bankruptcy Code, this is the longest time between bankruptcy cases. Chapter 7 is the quickest form of debt relief because no repayment plan is necessary.

If you have filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy before, received a discharge, and want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy now, you’ll need to wait at least four years from the date of filing – note that this is different from the date of your order of discharge. People who were able to discharge unsecured debts through Chapter 7 bankruptcy and now want to pay off other types of debt, typically file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy

The wait to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy where a discharge was received, is 6 years. You may be able to get the waiting period waived if you paid back all of the money owed to your unsecured creditors under your original Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan. Sometimes the waiting period can also be waived if you paid back 70% of your debts. It is also possible to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy one year after receiving a Chapter 13 discharge since repayment plans can take up to five years in some cases.

Filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy after doing so before will require a two-year waiting period if you have received a discharge and want to file again. Receiving a discharge before finishing a 3-year repayment plan can only happen if an unexpected hardship makes completing the plan impossible.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to how often you can file for bankruptcy and how many times, it depends on when you first filed for bankruptcy as well as the type. The Bankruptcy Code requires a certain amount of time to pass between filings to prevent people from filing every couple of years.

Do You Need a Bankruptcy Attorney?

At Stiberman Law we know that understanding bankruptcy laws can be confusing. That’s why we’re here to help. With more than 13 years of experience in Florida bankruptcy law, we can help sort out the process for you. Call us today at (954) 922-2283 or fill out the form below to get started.

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