If you have filed for bankruptcy in the past, you know the relief it brought to your financial and personal situations. It may have allowed you to get back on your feet and start fresh once again. Unfortunately, though, many times due to unforeseen circumstances, people who have filed for bankruptcy in the past find themselves in financial turmoil once again. This leads many to seek the same relief they gained through their previous bankruptcy. Thankfully, people have the option of filing for bankruptcy again as they did in the past.
When you have filed for bankruptcy in the past and are interested in filing for bankruptcy again, there are some important rules set forth by the Bankruptcy Code that you should be aware of. As a St. Louis Bankruptcy attorney can tell you, when filing for bankruptcy a second, or possibly more, time, there is a certain amount of years you have to wait before filing again to be able to have your debts discharged, or “wiped out”. The amount of years between filing for bankruptcy again depends on the type of bankruptcy you are filing.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which generally “wipes out” all of your debt, is the worst chapter in the eyes of creditors because they will not be receiving any future payments from you after you file and receive your discharge. Because of this, you have to wait the longest in between filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you have already filed a Chapter 7 in the past. The amount of years between filing a second Chapter 7 bankruptcy to receive a discharge is 8 years. A good way to think of this is that it is the worst situation for the creditors to be in, so you have to wait the longest to file this type of bankruptcy again.
If you have filed a Chapter 13 in the past and would like to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would have to wait 6 years between filing in order to receive a discharge. Again, this is because Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the worst situation for creditors, so you have to wait longer to file this type of bankruptcy. You have a shorter amount of time in between filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you filed a Chapter 13 in the past, though, because Chapter 13 is the more ideal bankruptcy for your creditors.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a better situation for your creditors to be in because it involves a repayment plan that they receive money from. Because of this, you typically do not have to wait as long to re-file this type of bankruptcy in an attempt to receive a discharge. If you have filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, and would like to file a Chapter 13, you have to wait 4 years to file to receive a discharge. Additionally, if you have filed a Chapter 13 and would like to file a second Chapter 13, you have to wait 2 years to file to receive a discharge. A good way to think of this is just the opposite as a Chapter 7; Chapter 13 bankruptcies are better for creditors, so you don’t have to wait as long to file this type of bankruptcy to receive a discharge.
Years between filing to receive a discharge:
Chapter 7 — Chapter 7 = 8 years
Chapter 13 — Chapter 7 = 6 years
Chapter 7 — Chapter 13 = 4 years
Chapter 13 — Chapter 13 = 2 years
*It is important to note that the years between filing are from the date that your case was filed, not from the date of discharge. So, if you filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January of 2005 and received your discharge in March 2005, you would be able to file a new Chapter 7 case to receive a discharge starting January of 2013.
You may have noticed that throughout this article, I have mentioned that you have to wait a certain amount of years to file a certain type of bankruptcy to receive a discharge. This is very important to be aware of because you can still file for bankruptcy even if you know that you are not going to receive a discharge of your debts. In this case, you do not need to abide by the “years between filing” rules.
Typically, this comes up when someone is facing a foreclosure on their home. An example of this is if you filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge 3 years ago, and decided to keep your home through that bankruptcy and now, 3 years later, you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, and are facing foreclosure. Many people would assume that in this situation, you would not have any options to assist you with keeping your home since it has only been 3 years since your previous bankruptcy case was filed and you received a discharge. Not having any options with regard to bankruptcy, however, is a common misconception. In this situation, you would be able to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure from proceeding, and to assist you with keeping your home, even though it has not been four years since your previous Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. Essentially, you would be putting the amount that you are behind on your mortgage into a payment plan, allowing you to catch up on missed payments over time. After the plan is completed, you will not receive a discharge, but it will allow you to keep your home.
Filing for bankruptcy multiple times can become very confusing if you do not know all of your options from the start. Although there are time limits on when you can file for bankruptcy to receive a discharge, you still have the option of filing before those time limits have been reached, as long as you understand you will not receive a discharge.