You can file bankruptcy as many times as you want during your lifetime. Many people file Chapter 7 bankruptcy again. Life events are not limited to one financial hardship. Unfortunately, many of the events in our lives can cause a financial crisis. In some cases, we may need the assistance of the bankruptcy court to recover from more than one financial hardship.
However, the Bankruptcy Code limits how often you can receive a bankruptcy discharge. A bankruptcy discharge is the goal of filing Chapter 7. Therefore, if you file another Chapter 7 case too soon, you may not receive a bankruptcy discharge.
What Is a Bankruptcy Discharge When You File Chapter 7?
The bankruptcy discharge is an order from the bankruptcy court that erases your legal obligation to repay a debt. In other words, if a debt is discharged in bankruptcy, the creditor cannot take any actions to collect the debt.
The creditor cannot contact you about the debt, file a debt collection lawsuit, garnish your wages, or seize assets. The debt is forgiven. If a creditor tries to collect the debt, the court may sanction the creditor.
Time Limits for Filing Bankruptcy and Obtaining a Discharge
Below are the timelines for multiple bankruptcy filings if you want to be eligible to receive a bankruptcy discharge. The dates are calculated, beginning with the date of the previous bankruptcy filing to the date of the new bankruptcy filing.
Filing Chapter 7 After a Previous Chapter 7 Case – Eight Years
You must wait eight years between Chapter 7 bankruptcy filings to receive a bankruptcy discharge.
Filing Chapter 7 After a Previous Chapter 13 Case – Six Years
You must wait six years to file Chapter 7 after receiving a bankruptcy discharge in a previous Chapter 13 case.
Filing Chapter 13 After a Previous Chapter 13 Case – Two Years
You must wait two years between filing Chapter 13 cases to receive a bankruptcy discharge.
Filing Chapter 13 After a Previous Chapter 7 Case – Four Years
You must wait four years to file a Chapter 13 case after receiving a bankruptcy discharge in a previous Chapter 7 case.
Filing Another Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case Before Eight Years
There could be instances in which you might want to file bankruptcy even though you would not receive a bankruptcy discharge. These cases are rare, and you should seek legal advice from an experienced bankruptcy lawyer. Filing multiple bankruptcy cases could result in bankruptcy fraud or bankruptcy abuse charges.
Generally, there are very few reasons why you would file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy case if you cannot receive a discharge. In most cases, people would only file another Chapter 7 within eight years if they did not receive a discharge in their previous Chapter 7 case.
However, the court could have ordered a waiting period if it dismissed the first Chapter 7 case. Furthermore, if the court denied the discharge in the first Chapter 7 case, you may not be able to discharge debts listed in your previous Chapter 7 case.
We strongly recommend that you seek legal advice if you want to file Chapter 7 before eight years. We can help you locate a bankruptcy lawyer near you who offers free bankruptcy consultations.
Exploring Ways to Get Rid of Debt Without Filing Bankruptcy
If you need help with debts but cannot file Chapter 7 again for a few years, you might want to explore other debt-relief options. Ascend has several resources available to help individuals get out of debt. We will help you compare debt relief options to find what works best for you, including but not limited to:
Most of our services are free. Contact us today to talk with a member of our team. Our goal is to help you get out of debt.