Sometimes, people who file for bankruptcy can find themselves in financial trouble again in the future. On those occasions, it may be beneficial to explore filing for bankruptcy again. The first step is understanding how many times you can file for bankruptcy, as there are specific rules you must follow.
Theoretically, someone could file for bankruptcy several times throughout their life. However, the frequency with which you can file for bankruptcy beyond the first time will depend on the type of bankruptcy filing you undertook in the past.
Options for a Second Bankruptcy Filing
For individuals in South Carolina or North Carolina, the most common options for filing bankruptcy will involve Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
As the U.S. Courts explain, individuals who have no means of paying off their debts can have some of them forgiven with a Chapter 7 filing. However, they must meet the criteria in a means test, showing their inability to pay.
Meanwhile, a Chapter 13 filing allows people to reorganize their debts. For those who do not satisfy the criteria in the means test, this option allows them to protect some assets and pay off what they owe over a longer period of time.
Chapter 7 to Chapter 7 Filing
If you filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy during your most recent filing and want to file under Chapter 7 again, you must wait at least eight years between filings.
For someone looking to file bankruptcy more than once, this configuration represents the longest period of time you will have to wait between filings.
Chapter 13 to Chapter 13 Filing
If you reorganized your debt under Chapter 13 previously but now find yourself needing to do so again, you can file under this chapter two years after the previous filing.
However, a two-year refiling period is rare. The majority of repayment plans under Chapter 13 require at least three years to complete, and some take up to five years. In addition, you typically cannot file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy again without finishing your original repayment plan, barring very unusual circumstances.
Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 Filing
Moving from a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in the past to a Chapter 13 filing now is a common route repeat filers take. The waiting period between filings is four years when going in this direction.
For example, someone could have used Chapter 7 in the past to discharge unsecured debts. Now, they may want to go with Chapter 13 to help pay off still-existing debts from the original filing—this is a common step for tax debts.
Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 Filing
Typically, an individual will need to wait six years after filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to then file under Chapter 7. However, it is possible to file under Chapter 7 sooner than six years in certain cases.
For example, if you paid off your creditors under Chapter 13 in your original repayment plan and received a discharge, you may then be able to file again under Chapter 7.
Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Again
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is an option that businesses may use, rather than individuals. With this filing option, companies facing debt issues can reorganize the business, allowing it to continue operating while they work on achieving debt relief.
When filing for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, no waiting times exist for those who eventually decide to file again. However, the typical Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing plan can take three to five years to receive a full discharge. Therefore, before filing under Chapter 11 again, you will need to wait until the original case resolves.
Are There Other Options for Filing Bankruptcy Sooner?
When you hire a bankruptcy attorney from our firm to represent you during this process, we could potentially identify a way around the typical waiting periods.
Additionally, one of our lawyers could discuss different routes for you to take versus filing for bankruptcy again. Our team has multiple strategies we can deploy to help you with debt relief. Some of these may be better options than filing for bankruptcy.
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Our Team Is Ready to Answer All of Your Bankruptcy Questions
The team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, understands the complexities involved in filing for bankruptcy for the first time. Our lawyers also know how to navigate subsequent filings. When you choose our firm, we will walk you through the process, tailoring our services and representation to meet your exact needs.