The short answer is yes, you can file again. There are of course laws against abuse of the Bankruptcy code, but I will not go into those issues here. In general, an individual (or couple) can file more than one Bankruptcy. The main concern is the time frame between each Bankruptcy filing to determine whether or not you will receive a discharge. There are some cases, such as the case of a Chapter 20, where obtaining a discharge is not a concern. You can read more about Chapter 20 cases here.
If your case was dismissed without receiving a discharge, then you can refile. However, there are other issues to be aware of such as whether you have an automatic stay, or if you have to wait a certain time frame to refile.
One of the main things to be aware of when calculating when you can get a discharge is the filing dates of your Bankruptcies. There are time limits that prevent you from receiving another discharge and those time limits are calculated based upon the filing date of the prior case and the filing date of the new case. For example, if you filed a Bankruptcy on December 1, 2010 and you received your discharge in March of 2011, the date that you will be looking at to determine when you can file again and receive a discharge is the December 1, 2010 date that you initially filed your case.
The time frame before receiving a discharge in your new filing depends upon what type of Bankruptcy you filed before, and what type of Bankruptcy you will be filing this time.
Keep in mind that if your case was dismissed, you very likely did not receive a discharge.
IF YOU FILED A CHAPTER 7 AND RECEIVED A DISCHARGE
If you previously filed a Chapter 7 case then you will have to wait eight (8) years before you can file another Chapter 7 and receive a discharge. This means that if you filed a prior Chapter 7 case (and received a discharge) on December 1, 2010 then you would have to wait until after December 1, 2018 before you could receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 case.
If you previously filed a Chapter 7, then it is four (4) years before you can file a Chapter 13 case and receive a discharge. Please note, that this does not mean that you could file a Chapter 13, then convert your case to a Chapter 7 to get a discharge. The time limits for a Chapter 7 would prevent you from getting the Chapter 7 discharge.
There are some instances where you might find that you filed a Chapter 7, received the discharge, but you would still want to file a Chapter 13 case before the time frame that you could file and obtain a discharge. This type of case is called a Chapter 20. As I mentioned previously, you can read more about Chapter 20 cases here.
IF YOU FILED A CHAPTER 13 AND RECEIVED A DISCHARGE
If your prior case was a Chapter 13 and you received a discharge, then you would have to wait six (6) years to file before you could receive a discharge in a Chapter 7 case.. There are some exceptions to this rule. For example if you paid all of your creditors 100% or if in your prior Chapter 13 case you paid at least 70% to creditors and your case was filed in good faith and in good effort, then you may be able to file a Chapter 7 before that six year mark.
If your prior case was a Chapter 13 and you received a discharge then you would not be able to receive a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 13 for two (2) years.
WHAT IF I DID NOT RECEIVE A DISCHARGE?
If your first case was dismissed, you can file again. You should speak with a Bankruptcy lawyer though because there may be other issues. A couple of examples of issues that could arise due to the prior case being dismissed are whether or not you have an automatic stay, whether you have to wait to file 180 days because your case was dismissed for failure to appear in court, waiting to file because you chose to dismiss your case after a creditor filed a motion for relief from the automatic stay among other things. These types of issues can result in more complex situations than just ‘simply’ filing your Bankruptcy case again.
If you were denied a discharge in your prior case, you may be able to file again. Even so, this is certainly a circumstance where you should seek legal assistance. If you are able to file Bankruptcy again, it is possible that you will not receive a discharge for the debts from the prior Bankruptcy that were denied dischargeability.
There are many issues that can arise in Bankruptcy cases, and filing multiple Bankruptcy can lead to many more factors to consider. River City Law offers free consultations. You can Read more about what to expect in a consultation with us here.
Contact us today to discuss your case!