There isn’t a set number of times that you can file for bankruptcy. You can file as many times during a lifetime as necessary. There is, however, a wait time that applies when filing for a subsequent bankruptcy. Doing so can also negatively affect your credit for an extended period of time, which is something to be aware of.

What is the Waiting Period to File Bankruptcy Again?

Navigating the waiting period to file subsequent bankruptcies can make your head spin. There are several guidelines in place for each of the typical Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcies, but there are details involved that can significantly change those timelines as well.

For example, if debts were not discharged or your bankruptcy case was dismissed, the waiting period doesn’t apply, and you can file again when you are ready. If you haven’t failed to show up to court resulting in the dismissal of your bankruptcy, or it was dismissed based on you disobeying court orders, there isn’t a waiting period.

When Can I File Chapter 7?

If your previous bankruptcy was filed as chapter 7 or 11, you must wait eight years after the initial bankruptcy was filed before filing for chapter 7 again.

However, if your previous filing was for chapter 13 and all of the creditor’s claims were paid through that filing, there is no waiting period to file for Chapter 7. Also, if more than 70% of the creditors’ claims were paid through the previous filing and you have made reasonable use of your disposable income to pay off the rest, you can also avoid the waiting period for chapter 7.

When Can I File Chapter 13?

If your previous filing was for chapter 7 and you are seeking a chapter 13 bankruptcy, the typical wait time is four years from the date the chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed. However, if your previous case was a chapter 13 case and you want to file another chapter 13 case, your waiting period drops to two years, commonly.

What Does Filing More Than Once Do to My Credit?

A completed bankruptcy on your credit report can mean lower credit scores and fewer options for being approved for loans and other applications in the future. A Chapter 7 filing generally stays on your report for up to ten years, and a Chapter 13 filing stays on your report for up to seven years.

Having more than one on your report can mean the result of your loss of “automatic stay.” “Automatic stay” refers to a creditor’s ability to try to collect debts from a bankruptcy filer. If you have multiple filings on your report, it can mean creditors now have a right to pursue you for credit they weren’t previously able to follow.

What Are My Other Options?

Filing a second time should be viewed as one of your last options, based on how it can affect your credit, employment, and other categories moving forward. You have a couple of alternatives to help you escape debt that doesn’t involve filing for bankruptcy. They include debt consolidation, working with a consumer credit counselor to eliminate some or all of your debt, or working with a debt settlement company that helps you negotiate with your creditors on the amounts owed.

You don’t have to navigate this confusing journey alone. Work with an experienced immigration attorney who can help guide you on your best options based on your specific needs. Contact my office at 407-499-5680 to begin the process and get your financial situation back on track.