Determining whether to file for bankruptcy will always make for a difficult decision no matter the circumstances. Your journey to debt freedom can provide plenty of frustration and uncertainty along the way.

But what if you need to file for bankruptcy again? How long do you have to wait? The answer will depend on the route you took with your first bankruptcy.

When Can I File Bankruptcy Again?

While there is no limit on how many times you can file bankruptcy, you will have to wait several years between filings in most cases. The waiting period is dependent upon the bankruptcy path you have taken during your previous filing(s).

After You Have Received Discharge in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Your options for refiling for bankruptcy will hinge on the outcome of your first attempt. The type of bankruptcy you filed under will also greatly affect your next filing.

Since Chapter 7 Bankruptcy wipes bills clean when you receive a discharge of debt, you are required to wait quite a while before you can use that financial lifeline again.

A 3D model standing in front of three arrows pointing at different directions

Filing Chapter 7 After a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

If your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing was successful and earned a discharge of debt, you are required to wait eight years from your filing date or “petition day” before you can file Chapter 7 again.

When you file prematurely, before the eight years are up, you aren’t allowed to earn any further discharge of debt.

Filing Chapter 13 After a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

You could find it necessary to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy after completing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

To get the full benefits of a Chapter 13 discharge, you must wait four years from your last filing date to attempt a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

If you file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy before the four years are up, the discharge of some debt isn’t allowed in the process. But there are benefits that might help you depending on your financial situation. Filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy right after a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is known informally as a “Chapter 20” Bankruptcy.

This strategy can allow the debtor to enjoy the debt forgiveness in the Chapter 7 process but use the Chapter 13 payment plan to pay off other debts that weren’t discharged.

After You Have Received Discharge in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy involves a payment plan that demonstrates your intentions to pay off your bills. It’s a long process and those years spent paying down your loans can affect how soon you can return to a bankruptcy court.

Filing for Chapter 7 After a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

After receiving a Chapter 13 discharge you’ll have to wait six years from the filing date to then file for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.

There is a way around the six-year barrier, however.  You can file for Chapter 7 at any time if you’ve reached one of these goals:

  • You’ve followed the process in good faith to the best of your abilities and paid all of your allowed unsecured debts,
  • Or you paid at least 70% of your allowed unsecured debts in a plan the court agrees

Filing for Chapter 13 After a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

If you’ve already received a discharge in a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy case, your next attempt at filing Chapter 13 will have to wait two years from the filing date of the last one.

Because the Chapter 13 process usually involves a three to five-year plan to repay debts, you will likely have to wait until your first payment schedule has been completed to the satisfaction of the bankruptcy court.

Letter tiles arranged to form the word bankrupt

Finding a Bankruptcy Lawyer for Your Second Filing

Any bankruptcy filing is a complex and difficult process that must be checked down to the smallest detail to have the best chance of success. A second and third bankruptcy will require an in-depth analysis of your previous case to make sure your filings line up precisely and your new petition is equally thorough and accurate.

To gain every advantage you’ll need to successfully navigate the bankruptcy process again requires a bankruptcy lawyer with a long, successful history of representing clients in California Bankruptcy Court.

Contact A Los Angeles Bankruptcy Lawyer Serving Southern California

Bankruptcy rescues people who can no longer keep up with their debt. Yet, even with that legal protection sometimes debtors still aren’t able to get back on solid financial footing.

Another bankruptcy filing may become necessary and this is a possibility provided for under California bankruptcy law. You may be forced to seek an answer to the question, how often can you file bankruptcy?

A bankruptcy attorney can answer this question and help you determine if it’s the right option for you and your family. Elena Steers, the founder of The Law Offices of Steers & Associates, has worked on both sides of the California bankruptcy process. She’s an expert in bankruptcy law and she puts her experience to work in your favor in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. Take a moment and read about her extensive background.

For a free bankruptcy consultation in Los Angeles or anywhere across Southern California please contact us today. The Law Offices of Steers & Associates handle bankruptcy cases of all sizes and have stood by their clients through difficult times and helped them find financial freedom.