Bankruptcy gives many people a way to start over, but for others, an additional filing may be needed. If this is the case, you may be asking, “When can I file for bankruptcy a second time?”
There is no minimum time period under bankruptcy law that requires you to wait before filing again. However, if you file too soon after a previous case, you’re putting your eligibility for debt discharge at risk.
Still, even without debt forgiveness, this may be a reasonable choice for those who need an additional option to get back on their feet.
Though these cases are uncommon, your financial situation may have extenuating circumstances that make you a good candidate.
What exactly is the timeline for filing again? It’s important to know the details before you proceed.
How Often Can I File?
How soon you can file bankruptcy again may depend on:
The Reason For Filing a Second Case
- If you are still attempting to get outstanding debt dismissed, then timing matters.
- According to the BAPCPA (Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005), if your debt under your first bankruptcy, there are minimum wait times between discharges.
- For consumers who simply need more time to pay off unforgiven debt like student loans or tax debts with an extended payoff plan, there may only be a short wait to file again.
How your case was settled
- Discharged: This means you were released from personal liability for certain debts. If a discharge was denied in your first case, you can still file a second time. However, you likely won’t be given a debt discharge in this instance either. This, of course, is dependent on individual circumstances.
- Dismissed: This means your bankruptcy proceeding was terminated.
- Dismissed with prejudice: This means your bankruptcy case was terminated due to an attempt to misuse the system. You may not be allowed to file again.
The type of bankruptcy case previously filed
- The amount of time between depends on the type of filing, and the order of those types. (See the next section for specific timeline details.)
You can file for bankruptcy again as needed, but you will not be granted discharges a second time until after a certain amount of time has passed.
Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Filing Times
Timelines for successive bankruptcy filings:
For a previously-filed Chapter 7, the required wait time is:
- Eight years before filing a second Chapter 7
- Four years before filing a Chapter 13
For a previously-filed Chapter 13, the required wait time is:
- Six years before filing a Chapter 7. An exception to this rule exists if you have paid off at least 70% of previous unsecured debt, you may be allowed to file sooner.
- Two years before filing a second Chapter 13
Refiling Dismissed Cases
If an original bankruptcy case was dismissed, you are still eligible to file again unless ordered otherwise by the court. Also, there may be a 180-day waiting period.
Having your first case dismissed can be a positive outcome. For example, if your financial situation suddenly improved and you were able to adequately make your payments, or if you chose to dismiss your case after a creditor filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay.
Having your first case dismissed can also be a negative, in the instance that you willfully failed to appear or violated a court order.
It should be noted that if your first case was dismissed and you filed a second case within the first year, your automatic stay will automatically be only 30 days. For two or more dismissals, there is no automatic stay.
Whatever the case, dismissal alone does not prevent you from filing bankruptcy again. The time limits are not applicable in your case since your debts harmful. The only timeline that may is the six month waiting period if you didn’t follow court instructions.