When people get into bad financial situations and their debts become overwhelming, bankruptcy can offer them a way out and a fresh financial start. What happens, however, if that fresh start turns out to lead right back down a path toward even more crushing debt?
This can easily happen for numerous reasons, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of if you have to file bankruptcy again – although you need to be aware of the limitations involved.
The type of bankruptcy previously filed is a big factor
There’s no specific limit on the number of times you can file for bankruptcy, but your ability to do so depends on several different factors. What’s particularly important is the type of bankruptcy you previously filed, what type of bankruptcy you want to file now and how long it has been since your previous filing. Here are the basics:
- Chapter 7 after Chapter 7: If you previously filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge, you must wait eight years from the date of the previous filing to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy again.
- Chapter 13 after Chapter 13: If you filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and received a discharge, you must wait at least two years from the date of the previous filing to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy again. (In practice, you usually have to wait longer, since the typical Chapter 13 repayment period lasts from three to five years.
- Chapter 7 after Chapter 13: Generally speaking, you need to wait six years to file Chapter 13 after you receive a Chapter 7 discharge, although that time limit may be waived under certain circumstances.
- Chapter 13 after Chapter 7: You generally need to wait four years from the point that your Chapter 7 bankruptcy was discharged to file for Chapter 13 – although there are some situations where you can essentially “piggyback” a Chapter 13 onto a Chapter 7 to help you reorganize nondischargeable debts.
Bankruptcy is a big decision, and you deserve personalized legal guidance that is tailored to your specific circumstances as you explore all your potential options. Don’t feel like you have to navigate this confusing and potentially frustrating process alone.