It may surprise (or relieve) you to learn that filing for personal bankruptcy is not a one-time-only event. If you have used Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the past to get a handle on your debt and find yourself overwhelmed by debt again, you could be eligible to file again.
Your ability to file for bankruptcy again will largely depend on how long it has been since your previous case was discharged or dismissed:
· If you previously filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can file for Chapter 7 again eight years after your original filing. If eight years have not yet passed, you need only wait four years to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
· If you previously filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you technically must wait two years to file Chapter 13 again. However, in reality it usually takes three to five years for a Chapter 13 case to discharge, so you may be able to file again immediately after your previous filing is wrapped up. If your case was dismissed (not discharged), you usually are able to refile immediately. If you are seeking Chapter 7 protection this time, you must wait six years – with an important exception for cases in which the Chapter 13 filing paid off at least 70 percent of your debts, was proposed in good faith and was a best effort.
Repeat bankruptcy filings and the automatic stay
However, if you are eligible to file for bankruptcy again, you might not enjoy the same level of protection as you did the first time. If you filed for the first time within the last 12 months and your case was dismissed, the automatic stay will only last 30 days this time, as opposed to the length of your bankruptcy case. The automatic stay pauses collection actions against you, so this is a big difference. For a third filing within 12 months, there is no automatic stay – you must ask the bankruptcy court to impose a stay.
Whatever your history with personal bankruptcy, you could have several options for getting out of debt. To learn more about subsequent bankruptcy filings, speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney.