I Filed Bankruptcy A Few Years Ago, Can I File Again?

21 Aug I Filed Bankruptcy A Few Years Ago, Can I File Again?

With the grim economic times today, often people who had previously filed bankruptcy are finding that they are facing difficult financial issues today. The question is often asked, can I file bankruptcy today when I had filed a few years ago? As is often the case, the answer depends on very particular circumstances.

If you filed a chapter 7 case and received a discharge of your debts, you may not discharge your debts in another chapter 7 case for eight years from the date that you filed your prior case. So, if on May 15, 2002, you filed a chapter 7 case, you cannot file another chapter case until eight years later, or until Saturday, May 15, 2010 (with electronic filing, we can file on Saturdays).

If you had previously filed a chapter 7 and received a discharge, you can file a chapter 13 but unless more than four years have elapsed since you filed your chapter 7, your unsecured debts will not be discharged. So if you had previously filed a chapter 7 prior to four years ago, you could still file a chapter 13 and discharge your debts.

If you had previously filed a chapter 13 and received a discharge of your debts, you cannot discharge your debts in a chapter 7 case unless six years has passed from the date of filing your prior chapter 13 case until your new chapter 7 filing unless your unsecured claims were paid in full or they were paid at least 70% and your case was filed in good faith.

If you had previously filed a chapter 13 case and received a discharge of your debts, you cannot discharge your debts in another chapter 13 unless at least two years have passed since the date of filing your first chapter 13 case. Since most chapter 13 cases last longer than two years, this generally is not a big hurdle.

Besides being able to discharge your debts, there are other reasons why it may be advantageous to file another bankruptcy even if you do not discharge your debts in the subsequent filing. For example, you may have recently been discharged in a chapter 7 but are now behind on your house payments and a foreclosure is looming. You can still file a chapter 13 and obtain the benefit of the automatic stay which stops the foreclosure even though you may not get a discharge of your debts.

If you are still struggling with debt issues even though you had filed bankruptcy in the past, you can still obtain relief from your debts. You should consult with a competent bankruptcy attorney like the ones on this website to at least discuss your options.

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Adrian Lapas, Esq.

I've been practicing bankruptcy law in North Carolina since 1993, and am certified as a specialist in consumer bankruptcy law by the North Carolina State Bar.
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