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How Often Can You File Bankruptcy?

Bryan Penland is one of the attorneys at Flexer Law. He manages our Columbia, TN office, and his practice is primarily focused on Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 consumer bankruptcies. Today, he discusses one of the most commonly asked questions from potential clients or clients who are re-filing with us after a prior case. “How long do I have to wait to receive a discharge in a bankruptcy if I’ve filed one before?” Some general rules determine eligibility for how often can you file bankruptcy.

Learn How to Eliminate Debt in Bankruptcy Discharge

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge Rule 

The general rule based on statutes (11 US Code Section 727), indicates that if you file a Chapter 7, you cannot receive a discharge in another Chapter 7 for eight years from the filing date of the previous one.

There are also some cases where someone may have filed a Chapter 7 and wants to file a Chapter 13. The 11 US Code 1328 stands for that you cannot discharge any debts you don’t pay in Chapter 13 unless it has been over four years from the date you filed that Chapter 7 previously.

Therefore, if you’re going from 7 to 7, you have to wait eight years from the filing date of the previous 7 before you can get a discharge in the most recent or subsequent 7. If you’re going from Chapter 7 and looking to file a Chapter 13, you have to wait at least four years from the date you filed the first Chapter 7. 

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Discharge Rules

There are different rules if you’re going from Chapter 13 as your first case to Chapter 7. When someone files a Chapter 13 and receives a discharge, they have to wait six years from the date of filing the Chapter 13 before they can get a discharge in a subsequent 7. However, there is one exception to that rule: If you pay at least 70% of your general unsecured debt in the first Chapter 13 and you proposed a fair plan to make payments to your creditors, you can get a discharge less than six years from the date of the Chapter 7 filing. 

Also, if you pay 100% of your creditors in the first Chapter 13, you also qualify for a discharge in Chapter 7 before that six-year period. In some cases, someone may complete a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and want to file another Chapter 13. That rule is a two-year limit on receiving a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 13. 

There is a case law that is bubbling up around districts in the country that are trying to change whether it was from the filing date or the discharge date of the case that was filed. However, that rule hasn’t gained any traction. Currently, the law states that it starts with the filing date of your case. The most common case is when you’re waiting to file another Chapter 7, and that starts from the filing date of the original Chapter 7. You have to wait eight years from that filing date before you can receive a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7. 

Middle Tennessee’s Top Bankruptcy Attorneys

Flexer Law has been serving the legal needs of Middle Tennessee residents since 1981. Our experienced bankruptcy attorneys will work diligently on your behalf to provide the best financial outcome for you. We have three office locations throughout Middle Tennessee to accommodate your legal needs. If you are wondering how often can you file for bankruptcy, contact our office for a free consultation. You can rely on our trusted attorneys to find the best solution for you to get your financial life back on track.

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