Can You Declare Bankruptcy More Than Once?

Yes; there aren’t any limits as to how many bankruptcy filings you can have. But if you’ve filed for bankruptcy in the past, there are rules governing when and how you can proceed with a second bankruptcy and so on. That’s why it’s crucial to have a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney review your financial situation and discuss time limits and other factors that might affect your case.

bankruptcy sign form

Whether or not you file again depends on:

  • The debt you have; unless your debts are dischargeable, there’s no benefit to a second bankruptcy. Back taxes, student loans, and child support you owe cannot be discharged.
  • The impact on your credit report. A bankruptcy filing remains posted for 10 years. You might wipe out much of your debt, but your eligibility for a job, loan, credit card, or apartment may be affected.

The Bankruptcy Code was changed in 2005 to limit how often you can file. These time limits depend on the type of bankruptcy and when you’re eligible for a second discharge.

  • Chapter 7: You must wait eight years from the date your first case was filed.
  • Chapter 13: A second Chapter 13 case can be filed no less than two years from your first.
  • Chapter 13, then Chapter 7: If your debt was discharged in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must wait at least six years before you can receive a Chapter 7 discharge. However, exceptions allow you to file right away if:
  • 100% of your unsecured debt has been paid.
  • 70% of claims have been paid in your best efforts.
  • Chapter 7, then Chapter 13: A Chapter 13 case can be filed only if it’s over four years since you received a Chapter 7 discharge.

Even if you can’t get a discharge, it can help to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You’ll still be liable for any remaining debt, without a discharge, but you can still avoid repossession, foreclosure, or wage garnishment while you catch up on loan payments and repay tax debts.

When the Court Dismisses Your Case

Most likely, the court will prevent you from refiling if it dismissed your previous bankruptcy case. This is to avoid fraud, but it depends on why the court chose to dismiss your case. If you can refile, there might be a 180-day waiting period and you might have limited automatic stay protection. You might also be prohibited from discharging debts associated with your first filing. 

Consult with Your Orange County Bankruptcy Attorney

Filing for bankruptcy is a complex process. There are many steps including credit counseling, but your attorney is experienced with all the legalities and requirements, so they can help you weigh your options and make the right decisions. Your lawyer can help decide whether filing for bankruptcy again is necessary. Be sure to ask pertinent questions about how a second filing will affect your credit score and if there are other downsides.

If you have a past bankruptcy filing, and are considering another, it’s important to consider whether a second bankruptcy will help you reduce or eliminate your debt. Have you proposed a plan in good faith and made your best attempts to repay creditors? These are factors you and your attorney need to review. Oaktree Law can help; we offer professional bankruptcy and debt services in California that can help you discharge or pay off debt, and work towards a more secure financial future.

Request a free evaluation or call 562-219-2979 for more information.