The U.S. bankruptcy laws were enacted to help people get a fresh financial start, granting debtors some relief from the incessant phone calls, letters and legal action that typically accompany efforts to collect a debt. As a part of the bankruptcy process, debtors are required to undergo financial counseling, a process that often prevents further financial difficulties. But what if the unexpected happens again? What if you suffer an injury that keeps you from working or you develop medical problems that require significant treatment? Can you file for bankruptcy a second time? If so, are there restrictions on when you can file?
You Have the Right to File Multiple Bankruptcy Petitions
First, the good news—there’s no limit to the number of times you can file for bankruptcy protection. Each subsequent filing will, however, require that you submit to a “means test” to determine whether you qualify to discharge debts in Chapter 7 or must opt to restructure your debt in Chapter 13.
There are, however, time restrictions related to the filing of a subsequent bankruptcy petition. They are essentially “waiting periods,” prohibiting you from file two bankruptcies too closely together. If you fail to wait the required amount of time, you may be prevented from discharging debts, which can make the filing ineffective.
The waiting period is contingent on the type of bankruptcy you previously filed and the type you seek to file in your subsequent petition. If your first filing was in Chapter 7 and you want to file another Chapter 7 petition, you must wait 8 years from the date of the first filing. If, instead, you filed a Chapter 7, but now want to file a Chapter 13, you need only wait four years.
However, if your first petition was in Chapter 13 and you want to seek protection again under Chapter 13, there’s only a two year waiting period. A Chapter 13 followed by a Chapter 7 carries a 6 year waiting period.
Contact Our Offices
At the Law Office of Andrew B. Finberg, LLC, we bring comprehensive bankruptcy counsel to individuals in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties in New Jersey. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 856-988-9055 (toll-free at 866-721-7269) or contact us online.