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When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?

Our office consults with several potential bankruptcy clients each month. Most of them are trying to come up with solutions to the financial distress that has been plaguing them for years. Occasionally we are confronted with a common issue which arises when a potential client has previously filed for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Depending on the type of bankruptcy previously filed and the circumstances surrounding the debtors current financial situation, it may be possible for them to re-file for bankruptcy.

I. Filing Under The Same Chapter

The biggest factor to note in this determination of whether one can file for a subsequent bankruptcy is the chapter the previous bankruptcy fell under. For instance, if a debtor has filed for a discharge under a chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she cannot receive a second discharge in a subsequent chapter 7 until 8 years has passed from the date in which the first case was filed. On the other hand, if the first bankruptcy fell under the chapter 13 category, the debtor would not be eligible for a discharge in the subsequent chapter 13 until two years has passed.

II. Filing Under A Different Chapter

Things can get a little more confusing if filing under a different bankruptcy chapter than the first. In that scenario the order would determine the time frame. For example, a debtor would have to wait six years to to receive a discharge in a chapter 7 if the previous filing was a chapter 13. The time frame would change to a four year waiting period if the previous bankruptcy was filed under chapter 7 and the debtor was attempting to file a subsequent chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is important to note that if a debtors case is dismissed for failure to make chapter 13 plan payments there may be some limitations on the protection afforded to the debtor by the automatic stay.

There are several reasons a debtor would need to file for bankruptcy a second or third time. Anything from an unexpected emergency, loss of income or mismanagement of income can result in the need to file again for bankruptcy. However, there are instances when the debtor does not successfully complete the bankruptcy process and the case is dismissed without receiving a discharge. This can happen for a variety of reasons, some of which include: failure to appear in court, failure to obey a court order and simply not paying into the bankruptcy plan for chapter 13 bankruptcies. In this case the debtor is typically not barred from filing again unless the bankruptcy court orders that he or she may not re-file.

If you have previously filed for bankruptcy and need to consider bankruptcy again do not assume that you are not eligible. Douglas County Bankruptcy Lawyers has a lot of experience handling chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy cases and will advise you of all your options at your free consultation.

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3330 Cumberland Blvd. SE, Suite 500, Atlanta, GA 30339 Phone: (770) 485-6620