Can I File for Bankruptcy Again?

double calculatorWith the slow recovery from the Great Recession, many people in and around Indianapolis are interested in bankruptcy as a way to get a fresh start and solve their financial problems. Maybe you’re considering hiring a bankruptcy lawyer to get you that fresh start too, but you’ve already filed for bankruptcy in the past. What can you do?

With rare exceptions, the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t stop you from filing a second petition. But in 2005, Congress tightened the restrictions on receiving a second discharge of your debt, and a discharge is the end goal in most bankruptcies.

So the first question is, did you receive a discharge in your prior bankruptcy? If not, then in most cases you can file again immediately and obtain a discharge under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

If you did get a discharge, then we need to look at the filing date of your previous case — not the discharge date or any conversion date — to determine your options for getting another bankruptcy discharge.

Was Your Prior Case a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy?

If you previously received a Chapter 7 discharge, you’ll need to wait 8 years from the date you filed the first case before filing again under Chapter 7.

Too soon for another Chapter 7? If it’s been at least 4 years since you filed, you can receive a second discharge by filing under Chapter 13 this time.

Or Did You File a Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

If you previously received a Chapter 13 discharge, and you’d like to do it again, the waiting period between filing dates is only 2 years. Since most Chapter 13 plans last from 3 to 5 years, this usually isn’t a problem.

On the other hand, if you’d rather get a Chapter 7 discharge this time, you’ll likely have to wait 6 years after the prior filing date before filing under Chapter 7. But if the Chapter 13 paid back a certain amount of debt, you may not have to wait at all. A bankruptcy attorney can review your prior Chapter 13 case and determine whether you’re exempt from the waiting period.

Good News if You Filed for Bankruptcy Under the Old Laws

Quite a few people rushed out to file for bankruptcy before revised laws took effect on October 17, 2005. In fact, over 2 million cases were filed that year — a record still standing today.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, some folks who filed in 2005 need debt relief again, but their options have been limited because of their previous bankruptcy. Luckily for them, we’re finally at the point where all “old law” cases were filed at least 8 years ago, so those filings no longer cause a problem for anyone who needs bankruptcy protection again.

Matt Conrad is an Indianapolis bankruptcy attorney and the founder of Conrad Legal LLC, which helps people in Central Indiana get out of debt with Chapter 7 and Chapter 13.

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