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Can you file bankruptcy more than once?

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Many people who file bankruptcy only need to go through proceedings once to reorganize their finances. Yet, you may find yourself in dire financial straits after your initial filing. Bills may have kept piling up, and your income might not have kept pace with your expenses. Through no fault of your own, you might feel that you need to file bankruptcy again. While you can do so, it’s important to understand how and when.

Filing order matters

After you’ve filed bankruptcy once, you must wait for a certain period to file again. This window depends on which type of bankruptcy you filed before and which you will file this time. You may have begun by reducing or eliminating unsecured debts through Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have secured debts remaining, you can take care of them by filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy after your initial discharge. This arrangement is often called Chapter 20 bankruptcy. While it is not an actual form of bankruptcy, it can give you needed time to pay off a large amount of debt and help you retain certain assets.

Yet, you may have filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy initially. If you cannot pay certain debts and need to file Chapter 7, you must wait six years from the first filing date to do so. Yet, you can file sooner if you have eliminated all your unsecured debts, or at least 70% of them while demonstrating effort to repay the rest. If you plan on filing two Chapter 13 bankruptcies in a row, you will only need to wait two years before starting the process. But if you want to file two Chapter 7 bankruptcies in a row, you must wait eight years before beginning proceedings.

Moving forward

No one wants to file multiple bankruptcies. But doing so may help you improve your economic situation in a manner that a single filing would not. An attorney with experience in bankruptcy law can help you understand the process.