How Often Can a Person File Bankruptcy?


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Filing for bankruptcy can mean the difference between struggling under a mountain of debt and being able to get on the road to financial health and stability. However, sometimes despite a person’s best efforts, intentions, and planning, bankruptcy may only temporarily help their financial situation. Sometimes, there are situations that make recovering financially following a bankruptcy beyond a person’s control. Circumstances such as illness, injury, or family problems, can all make it difficult to rebuild your credit and financial standing. Regardless of the reasons behind an unsuccessful financial recovery, a person may be interested in knowing how long it will be before he/she can file for bankruptcy again.


Technically, there is no limit on how many times or how long that you must wait before you may file for bankruptcy. However, in practice, the realities are much different. While there is not a limit on filing there is a limit on how soon you may receive another discharge, or wiping away, of your debt. How long this period is varies by the type of bankruptcy that you decide to file.


If you file for either two Chapter 7 discharges in a row or two Chapter 13 discharges in a row, then you need to be aware of the time limits placed on discharges for each. For a Chapter 7 discharge, you may not receive another discharge on a case that is filed within 8 years of the filing on the case in which the initial discharge was granted. For multiple Chapter 13 cases, you must wait two years prior to receiving a second discharge.


If you decide to file for bankruptcy a second time under a different chapter, your attorney will likely advise you that the order of chapters makes a difference. If your first discharge was through Chapter 13 then, absent exception, you are ineligible for a Chapter 7 discharge for six years. If you file for Chapter 7, receive a discharge, and then file Chapter 13, four years must have passed since the first discharge.


If you didn't receive a discharge in your first filing then you should consult a bankruptcy attorney. If your case was only dismissed, you may be able to file again after a waiting period and correct the deficiency in your filing. However, if your initial discharge was denied, then you may not be able to get a discharge of the debts from the first case.


Filing for multiple bankruptcies is a detail-centric process. An attorney on your side that knows the rules and exceptions to the rules can help advise you as to the best means to ensure that your second discharge is granted by the court.


About the author


Paul Young is a bankruptcy attorney and a Partner at the law firm of Young Klein & Associates.  He has been assisting clients in personal bankruptcy matters for over 20 years.