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Can I File for Bankruptcy More Than Once?

Law Office of Robert L. Firth  Nov. 9, 2022

Dealing with overwhelming debt or an emergency that drains your financial resources can occur more than once in a lifetime. That is why we often get asked if filing for bankruptcy more than once is possible.  

If you have filed for bankruptcy before, you probably thought you would never go bankrupt ever again. However, life can be unpredictable, and filing for bankruptcy is often the only way to get much-needed relief. At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, we understand that the pressure of mounting debt can force you into bankruptcy more than once in your life.  

Our bankruptcy attorney in Cathedral City, California, helps clients get a fresh financial start through bankruptcy, no matter how many times they have filed in the past. We also serve clients facing financial difficulties in Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Desert Hot Springs, and throughout the Coachella Valley.  

Can I File More Than Once?  

The short answer is, “Yes, you can.” There is no federal or state law that would limit the number of times you can file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in your lifetime. In fact, filing for bankruptcy more than once may be the best remedy when facing financial difficulties.  

While there is no limit on how many times you can declare bankruptcy, there are waiting periods you should be aware of. Technically, those waiting periods can affect the number of times you will be able to file for bankruptcy in your lifetime. “How long do I need to wait between bankruptcies?” you may wonder.  

The waiting period between filings depends on the types (chapters) of bankruptcy and whether your previous bankruptcy case was dismissed or you successfully received a discharge of debt. When considering filing for bankruptcy for the second time, it is important to understand the waiting limits and how they apply to your case.  

Filing Under the Same Bankruptcy Chapter vs. Filing Under Different Chapters 

Now that we have established that you can file for bankruptcy as many times as you feel is necessary, you need to be aware of the waiting periods between multiple bankruptcies. When filing under the same chapter, the waiting time is as follows: 

  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 7: eight years. If you filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 the first time, you could file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy again if at least eight years have passed from the filing date.  

  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 13: two years. If your previous bankruptcy was filed under Chapter 13 and you want to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy again, you must wait at least two years between the bankruptcies.  

Different waiting periods apply when you wish to file under different chapters:  

  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: six years. Typically, people must wait six years after filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy if they wish to file under Chapter 7. However, the waiting period could be waived if any of the conditions are met: (a) your unsecured debts in the Chapter 13 bankruptcy are paid in full, or (b) at least 70% of your unsecured debts were repaid and you made your best effort to repay.  

  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: four years. If your debts were discharged through Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you must wait at least four years from the filing date before you can file under Chapter 13.  

If you are still confused about how long you need to wait to file for bankruptcy the second time, consider speaking with a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney who can assess your situation and advise you on your debt relief options.  

What About Refiling Bankruptcy After a Dismissal?  

If your bankruptcy case was dismissed without prejudice, the above-mentioned waiting periods do not apply to you. In this situation, you can refile your bankruptcy right away without having to wait.  

However, filing multiple bankruptcies within a short period of time (even if they are dismissed) can affect an automatic stay, which is a court order that prohibits creditors from continuing or initiating debt collection activities.  

If your bankruptcy case was dismissed and you refiled within 12 months, the automatic stay would expire 30 days after the filing date. If you filed for bankruptcy two or more times within 12 months and each case was dismissed, an automatic stay would no longer go into effect.   

Legal Guidance You Can Trust  

If you are considering filing a second bankruptcy case, you may have questions such as, “Can I file for bankruptcy more than once?” and “How long will I have to wait between bankruptcies?” In this situation, our bankruptcy attorney at the Law Office of Robert L. Firth can provide legal guidance you can trust and help you understand your options for debt relief if you filed for bankruptcy before. Schedule your free consultation today.