The COVID-19 pandemic has caused numerous families and business owners across the United States to drastically reconsider their financial futures. Those who might have felt fairly stable in January of 2020 are now making decisions like closing down or reformatting their businesses or looking for new work after their companies have closed their doors. Others are trying to work their way back from the lock-downs that happened in spring, which led many to live for weeks or even months without work and to burn through their savings to survive or even leave their homes to stay afloat.
If this sounds like you, you may be in the position to be considering bankruptcy. What if you’ve previously file, though? Are you even allowed to file for bankruptcy again if you’ve received a successful debt discharge in the past? If so, how long do you have to wait before filing again?
How many times can you file chapter 7 bankruptcy? Here’s more of what you need to know before considering another filing:
For most people, bankruptcy seems like a last-case scenario – something you only want to do once in your life, if that. The truth is, though, it is simply a legal tool, and one that can be very beneficial if you find yourself in dire financial straits.
With everything that has happened in the last twelve months, many people are curious as to whether they might be eligible for bankruptcy. Those who have previously filed or had a successful bankruptcy discharge may be concerned about whether they will be eligible to do so again, and what the time frame regarding their right to another filing might be.
Since the goal of bankruptcy is the discharge of debt and the relief from overwhelming financial strain, there are technically no laws regarding how many times a person can seek this relief during their lifetime. When it comes down to it, the question is less of how many times you can file for bankruptcy, but how many times – and how often – you can receive a discharge of your debts.
While the foremost question you may have in mind regarding bankruptcy involves the total number of times that you can file, the more important detail might be how often you can do so. If you have filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy in the past, when you did so will be key in determining how soon you’ll be able to file again.
In the simplest terms, you will have to wait at least eight years from the date of your previous filing to file for chapter 7 bankruptcy again. If you previously filed for a chapter 11 bankruptcy, you will also have to wait eight years before choosing a chapter 7. It is important to note that this eight year period begins the day that your previous bankruptcy was filed and not the date on which it was discharged.
There are several other types of bankruptcies that you may have previously filed that have different times constraints in regard to how soon you can file a chapter 7 bankruptcy afterward, so if this is your first time considering this specific chapter of bankruptcy, you may be in luck. Chapter 12 or chapter 13 bankruptcy requires at least a six year wait before filing for chapter 11, unless you have met certain, fairly stringent financial requirements in terms of what you have repaid from your bankruptcy agreement. If you are filing for chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may have a significantly shorter wait since your last filing, so be sure to consult with your bankruptcy attorney about which chapter is the best option for your situation.
It is also important to note that there are special circumstances that may change or alter these rules somewhat. If you had your previous bankruptcy discharge revoked – and this can happen for a number of reasons – then you may be entitled to file again. In many cases of a revoked discharge, you and your legal team will simply have to back up and resubmit key paperwork or do a better job of documenting your assets.
In many cases, the reason for a revoked discharge is a mistake somewhere along the line, although it can also happen if you are caught misrepresenting your finances during your case. If this happens, you won’t have to worry about when you can file again, but whether you will end up in legal trouble or not! Always be honest during all phases of your bankruptcy filing, no matter how many times you have filed.
Now that you understand how long you’ll have to wait from the date of your last bankruptcy before you can go this route again, you’re probably still wondering – exactly how many times can you file chapter 7 bankruptcy in total?
As mentioned previously, there are no hard and fast rules regarding the number of total times you can file for bankruptcy. The important thing is keeping track of the dates from previous filings and knowing the impact they may have on future attempts to file. You can technically file for bankruptcy as many times as you feel that you need to, but since you can only legally receive a discharge from your debts every eight years, it is imperative to work within this time frame to ensure you are within the legal bounds of the bankruptcy system.
Remember, bankruptcy doesn’t have to be your last stop – or a one-time solution! If it’s the best choice for your circumstances, consider talking to a bankruptcy attorney about filing again.
For more information on chapter 7 bankruptcy and more, contact the industry leaders at the Van Horn Law Group. With extensive experience in all things related to South Florida bankruptcy, you’ll find the guidance you need to make the process much less stressful.
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