Can You File Bankruptcy More Than Once?
If you have recently filed a petition for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy, filing a second petition may be a necessity. However, if you received a discharge as a result of your first petition, you may have to hold off on filing again until you become eligible.
The time frame as to when you can get a second discharge depends upon whether you filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, whether you received a discharge (your debts were erased) or whether your bankruptcy case was dismissed. The time period is calculated from the filing date of your first bankruptcy petition to the filing date of the petition in the second bankruptcy case. It is not measured from the discharge date of the first bankruptcy.
When a Discharge Was Granted in the First Bankruptcy Case
If Your First Case Was a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
To receive a second Chapter 7 discharge, you need to wait eight years from the filing date of the previous Chapter 7 before filing the new Chapter 7 bankruptcy. To receive a Chapter 13 discharge following a Chapter 7 discharge, a four-year waiting period is required from the filing date of the previous Chapter 7 petition.
If Your First Case Was a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
To receive a second Chapter 13 discharge, you are required to wait two years from the filing date of the previous Chapter 13 before filing the new Chapter 13 bankruptcy. To receive a Chapter 7 discharge (when the first discharge was received in a Chapter 13) you must wait six years from the filing date of the previous Chapter 13 to file a Chapter 7.
When the First Bankruptcy Case Was Dismissed and You Did Not Get a Discharge
If your first bankruptcy case was dismissed, unless the court orders otherwise, you can immediately file again and receive a discharge. If your case was dismissed because of a violation of a court order or a failure to appear, you may be subject to a 180-day waiting period. The same period applies if you dismissed the case of your own volition after you received a motion for relief from the creditor regarding the bankruptcy stay. However, bankruptcy stays vary from case to case, so make sure you consider all relevant communication carefully.
Why Filing a Second Bankruptcy May Help You Even When You Cannot Get a Second Discharge
Some debtors have engaged in what is referred to as a “chapter 20” bankruptcy: filing for Chapter 13 immediately after a discharge from a Chapter 7 case. This method benefits debtors because discharge is not the only function of a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. A Chapter 13 plan can also be used to pay both secured and unsecured debts over time, which does not depend upon getting a discharge.
Most importantly, a mortgage debt that is past due can be brought current in a Chapter 13 over three to five years. This can occur even after a Chapter 7 discharge. Another reason to file a Chapter 13, even if you cannot get a discharge, is the opportunity to eliminate (“strip off”) a second or third mortgage from your real estate. This can only occur if you do not have any equity in your house above your first mortgage (i.e., your first mortgage is for more than your house is worth).
Talk With One of Our Bankruptcy Lawyers at No Cost
As you can see, the rules about filing a second bankruptcy are complicated. Contact our experienced attorneys at Levitt & Slafkes, P.C., to discuss whether filing a second bankruptcy is right for you. You can reach us online by filling out our online form or by calling 973-323-2953. Our firm represents clients in New Jersey.
We are a debt relief agency. We help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.