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Can a Person File Bankruptcy Twice?

While you may file for bankruptcy any time you wish, if you previously filed and received a discharge, you must wait a specified period of time before filing bankruptcy a second time – at least if you wish to receive a discharge, that is.

Believe it or not, in some situations, filing bankruptcy twice without receiving a discharge makes sense – but not for most people. Additionally, problems can arise when filing a second bankruptcy prematurely. The consequences can be disastrous.

Once you file a Chapter 7, you can’t automatically “dismiss” the petition. This has the effect of handing over your property to a bankruptcy trustee whose job it is to liquidate it at fire sale prices for the benefit of your creditors. However, receiving a nominal reduction of still-outstanding debts is not a good result for most.

Timing is everything when it comes to filing bankruptcy twice. The waiting periods applicable to filing bankruptcy a second time are addressed below.

1. When Originally Received a Chapter 7 Discharge and Plan to File Chapter 7

If you previously filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait eight years before filing to be eligible for discharge. Pursuant to Bankruptcy Code section 727(a)(8), this is calculated from the original filing date to the filing of the second petition. For example, if you originally filed on January 1, 2000, you would want to wait until January 1, 2008, or later.

2. When Originally Received a Chapter 7 Discharge and Plan to File Chapter 13

Pursuant to Bankruptcy Code section 1328(f)(1), if you previously filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and received a discharge, you must wait four years before filing a Chapter 13 in order to be eligible for a discharge.

If a Chapter 13 plan is not confirmed, a bankruptcy trustee may recommend conversion to Chapter 7. The rule stating that you cannot receive a second Chapter 7 discharge before eight years elapses from the prior Chapter 7 filing still applies, however, so in most cases you will want to dismiss the Chapter 13 action rather than convert to a Chapter 7.

3. When Originally Received a Chapter 13 Discharge and Plan to File Chapter 7

Under Bankruptcy Code section 727(a)(9), if you received a discharge in the Chapter 13, you are not eligible for a discharge under Chapter 7 for another six years, subject to a few exceptions.

4. When Originally Received a Chapter 13 Discharge and Plan to File Chapter 13

Pursuant to Bankruptcy Code section 1328(f)(2), if you received a discharge in the original Chapter 13, you cannot receive another discharge until two years has passed.

5. When Filed any Chapter but Didn’t Receive a Discharge

In most cases, you can file again after waiting 180 days. In such cases, it is important to speak with an attorney familiar with bankruptcy law.

The bottom-line is that while it is not unusual to file bankruptcy a second time, timing is crucial when you wish to receive a second discharge.

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