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Scura, Wigfield, Heyer, Stevens & Cammarota Blog

Can an Individual File for Bankruptcy Twice?

[fa icon="clock-o"] August 22, 2017 [fa icon="user"] Guillermo J. Gonzalez [fa icon="folder-open'] Bankruptcy

petition to file for bankruptcyEven after an initial bankruptcy filing and discharge, many individuals find themselves in insurmountable debt due to unfortunate life circumstances, for example - substantial medical bills from an unexpected incident. As a result, our law firm often receives inquiries from individuals seeking to file for bankruptcy a second or even third time. Luckily, an individual can file for bankruptcy as often as they’d like. However, there are certain time limitations on how often you can file and still receive a discharge. This blog will discuss the time limits of filing for bankruptcy and still receiving a discharge.

Time Limits of Filing for Bankruptcy

First Case Chapter 7, then Second Case Chapter 7: If an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, then he or she cannot receive a second Chapter 7 discharge unless the second case was filed more than eight years from the date of the initial Chapter 7 case. 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(8).

First Case Chapter 7, then Second Case Chapter 13: If an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, then he or she cannot receive a subsequent Chapter 13 discharge unless the Chapter 13 case was filed at least four years after the initial Chapter 7 case. 11 U.S.C. § 1328(f)(1). Remember that filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy after a Chapter 7 discharge will allow you to pay off priority debts or satisfy arrears on a missed mortgage or vehicle loan.

First Case Chapter 13, then the Second Case Chapter 13: if an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, then he or she cannot receive a second Chapter 13 discharge unless the second case was filed more than two years from the date of the initial Chapter 13 case. 11 U.S.C. § 1328(f)(2). Most Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plans last between three and five years. Thus, an individual can typically file for another Chapter 13 bankruptcy and be eligible for a discharge immediately after their first case is complete.

First Case Chapter 13, then the Second Case Chapter 7: If an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, then he or she cannot receive a subsequent Chapter 7 discharge unless the second case was filed more than six years from the date of the initial Chapter 13 case. 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(9). However there is an exception to the six-year rule. If in the previous Chapter 13 case the individual repaid 100% of allowed unsecured claims, or at least 70% of allowed unsecured claims and the plan was proposed in good faith and the debtor’s best effort.

First Case Chapter 11, then Second Case Chapter 7: If an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, then her or she cannot receive a subsequent Chapter 7 discharge unless the Chapter 7 case was filed at least eight years after the initial Chapter 11 case. 11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(8).

First Case Chapter 11, then Second Case Chapter 13: If an individual receives a discharge in a Chapter 11 bankruptcy case, then he or she cannot receive a subsequent Chapter 13 discharge unless the Chapter 13 case was filed at least four years after the initial Chapter 11 case. 11 U.S.C. § 1328(f)(1).

What If an Individual’s First Bankruptcy was Never Discharged and Dismissed?

If an individual’s first bankruptcy was dismissed, then he or she may file again without a time constraint. However, if the individual’s bankruptcy was dismissed within the past year, then the automatic stay will only last for 30 days, unless you can demonstrate good faith for an extension. 11 U.S.C. 362(c)(3)(B).

If you are thinking about filing a second or third bankruptcy petition, please call our law firm and speak with one of our experienced bankruptcy attorneys.

Schedule a Free Bankruptcy Consultation Today!

Whether you need to completely eliminate your debt through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or need to reorganize your credit payments through Chapter 13 or Chapter 11, we are well qualified as a full-service bankruptcy law firm for people in these and other New Jersey counties: Passaic County, Hudson County, Essex County, Bergen County, Morris County, and Sussex County. Call us today at 973-870-0434 or toll free 888-412-5091.

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