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Can You File Bankruptcy Twice?


Considering filing bankruptcy twice? You can.

There is no legal limitation on the number of times you can file for bankruptcy. However, a certain period of time must elapse before a second (or third, etc.) bankruptcy can be discharged. An exception would be if you did not get a discharge in your previous bankruptcy. In this case there would be no time limit as to when you could file again. How long you must wait depends on the type of bankruptcy you previously filed, the type that you want to file now, and the final disposition of your previous bankruptcy. You will want to know what happens before you file bankruptcy twice or more.

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Can you file Chapter 7 twice?

Yes under certain conditions. If your previous bankruptcy was a Chapter 7, and it was fully discharged, you cannot have another Chapter 7 bankruptcy discharged if it was filed less than 8 full years after your original bankruptcy’s filing date.

Double check your filing date from your previous bankruptcy if you are not absolutely certain that 8 years have elapsed. If 8 years have not elapsed since your last filing, denial of discharge will occur, and you will remain legally liable for your debt.

Filing Chapter 13 after filing a previous Chapter 13

If your previous bankruptcy was a fully discharged Chapter 13, you must wait 2 full years from your original filing date before filing for a new Chapter 13. If your new Chapter 13 repayment plan is confirmed, you can proceed with your bankruptcy. However, you might run into challenges if the new repayment plan is denied, so you want to have your attorney make sure you have a confirmable plan before filing.

How many years do you have to wait to file bankruptcy again, to get a second discharge?

When can I file bankruptcy again? How long you wait between filing bankruptcies is not strictly set forth in law, however, you are eligible for a second discharge of debt only under certain circumstances depending on the type of bankruptcy you first filed, the date filed, and whether you received a discharge in that first case or not.

If you previously had a Chapter 13 discharged, and you now want to file a Chapter 7, you normally need to wait until 6 years have passed since your Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. If you fully repaid your unsecured debts under your previous Chapter 13, then the waiting period does not apply. Likewise, if you paid at least 70% of your unsecured debts and the court is convinced that you made your best, good faith effort to repay, then you might not need to wait for 6 years. It is important to seek advice from an experienced Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyer if you want to have the time limit waived before you file bankruptcy twice.

If your previous bankruptcy was a fully discharged Chapter 7, and you plan to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must wait until 4 years have passed since you filed for Chapter 7.  However, if your case is not confirmed, your case may get dismissed.  Before filing, you want to know that your case should get confirmed and this is something you will want to review with your bankruptcy lawyer prior to filing.

What Is Chapter 20 Bankruptcy?

Chapter 20 bankruptcy is not officially a chapter. A chapter 20 bankruptcy is the practice of filing a chapter 13 bankruptcy promptly after filing a chapter 7 bankruptcy and receiving discharge. It is a strategy to resolve financial problems that could not otherwise be solved with Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 alone. Filing a Chapter 7 case will relieve you of your dischargeable unsecured debts, which will bring you under the Chapter 13 debt limit, effectively giving you the ability to file a subsequent Chapter 13 and deal with, for example, mortgage arrears, or perhaps strip off a second mortgage from your home.

In some isolated cases, it might makes sense to file what is more commonly known as a Chapter 20. This occurs when you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy immediately after receiving a Chapter 7 discharge. Although the Chapter 13 bankruptcy cannot be discharged, you might be eligible for bankruptcy protection while you work to pay off debts that are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7, such as certain back taxes. This is an extremely tricky area of the law. Whether you receive any benefits from this filing depends on your specific circumstances. Qualified and experienced legal representation is absolutely critical if you plan to try this unusual type of filing.

Is it bad to file bankruptcy twice?

Not necessarily. Most people who file twice have worked out a strategy with their bankruptcy attorney to deal with their total financial situation, like in the case of Chapter 20 you just read about. Yes, there will be ramifications on your credit, however, there are also ramification to allowing unpaid debt to just remain out there. Solving your debt problem allows you to move on and get a fresh start.

Why was my bankruptcy discharge denied?

In most instances, you case will be discharged. Rarely, when a debtor intentionally commits fraud against the creditor, will your discharge be denied. Below are some examples of why you would be denied discharge:

  • You are not honest with the court or your trustee about assets, income, debts, or expenses.
  • You did not disclose previous bankruptcy cases to the court.
  • You attempted to hide assets or did not account for loss of assets .
  • You committed fraud against creditors.

Filing bankruptcy after your first bankruptcy case was dismissed or discharge denied

If your previous bankruptcy did not go through, special waiting periods apply. How long you must wait depends on whether your bankruptcy case was dismissed or denied. In most cases, if your bankruptcy is dismissed, you can file again right away. However, if it was dismissed due to certain factors, such as your failure as a failure to comply with legal requirements, you might need to wait 180 days before you re-file. A prior dismissal could also affect the automatic stay of collection efforts that normally accompanies a bankruptcy filing. If your previous bankruptcy resulted in a denial of final discharge, you are generally eligible to file again immediately.

Filing for bankruptcy is complex, and legal waiting periods make subsequent bankruptcies even more complicated than first bankruptcy filings. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can walk you through the laws and regulations that govern your particular case. He or she can help you choose  the type of bankruptcy to file that will make the most sense for you. The attorney can explain this complex area of the law in simple terms so that you will be able to completely understand what happens if you file bankruptcy twice.

If you are ready to take the first steps toward financial freedom, call The Law Offices of David M. Offen today at (215) 625-9600 to schedule your free initial consultation. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

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