How often you can file a bankruptcy depends upon your specific circumstances, including which type of discharge you received previously.
From Chapter 7 to Chapter 13
Actually, you can file a Chapter 13 immediately after filing a Chapter 7. Known as a “Chapter 20,” this is actually a strategy employed for a client who is eligible to file a Chapter 7 but is also in need of catching up a house payment, restructuring a car payment, or paying off a priority debt, like the IRS. The Chapter 7 eliminates all unsecured debt, and upon discharge, the Chapter 13 is filed to restructure the secured debt payments. There is no Chapter 13 discharge in this scenario, but the discharge isn’t needed, since the client already received a Chapter 7 discharge.
If there is at least 4 years between the Chapter 7 filing and the subsequent Chapter 13 filing, a Chapter 13 discharge will be granted upon the successful completion of your Chapter 13 Plan.
Consecutive Chapter 7 Bankruptcies
If you received a discharge in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait eight years from the date the previous case was filed before another Chapter 7 can be filed. To be clear, you count the 8 years from old filing date to new filing date ~ NOT from old discharge date to new filing date.
Consecutive Chapter 13 Bankruptcies
- If your debts were discharged, in a prior Chapter 13 case, you must wait two years from the date the old Chapter 13 case was filed to file a new Chapter 13. Considering that a Chapter 13 case normally takes 3 to 5 years to complete, the average debtor can file a new Chapter 13 as soon as the old one is discharged.
- If your prior Chapter 13 case is dismissed (usually for non-payment), you can file a new Chapter 13 case immediately. However, if this is the second active Chapter 13 case you’ve had within a 12-month period, the automatic stay only applies for 30 days. You must file a Motion to Extend the Automatic Stay, and you must show the bankruptcy judge that (a) your financial circumstances are different now than when your previous bankruptcy was filed and (b) that you will now be able to successfully complete the new Chapter 13 case.
- If the new Chapter 13 bankruptcy will be your third Chapter 13 in the last 12 months, there is NO automatic stay when the case is filed. You will need to file a Motion to Impose Automatic Stay, and you must show the bankruptcy judge that (a) your financial circumstances are different now than when your previous TWO bankruptcies were filed and (b) that you will now be able to successfully complete the new Chapter 13 case. If this IS your third Chapter 13 case within the last 12 months, you really need to discuss your situation a qualified bankruptcy attorney to determine what course of action is best for you.
From Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
If you received a discharge in a previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must wait six years from the date the Chapter 13 was filed before you can file a Chapter 7 and receive a discharge. However, there are two little-known exceptions to this general rule. If you paid back 100% of your unsecured creditors you can immediately file a Chapter 7. In addition, you can file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy immediately after Chapter 13 discharge if you (a) paid back 70% of your unsecured debts, (b) your plan was proposed in good faith and (c) you used your best effort to pay your debt.