Multiple Bankruptcy Filings

You may file bankruptcy more than once in your life. The following rules are new under the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This article will cover information for people who have previously filed and received a discharge in a prior chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy case, and now wish to file another case.

Filing Under the Same Chapter.

Successive Chapter 7 cases: if filed a bankruptcy and received a discharge in your previous chapter 7 case, you cannot receive a discharge in a subsequent chapter 7 case that is filed within eight years from the date of the filing of the previous case.

Successive Chapter 13 cases: if you received your first discharge in a chapter 13 case, you cannot receive a discharge in a second chapter 13 case that is filed within two years from the date the first chapter 13 case was filed.

Filing Under Different Chapters:

Chapter 13, then Chapter 7: If you filed a Chapter 13 and received a discharge, you must wait 6 years from the date of that the previous case was filed in order to file a chapter 7 case and receive a discharge. There is an exception to this 6 year rule if you paid all of your chapter 13 creditors in full or if you paid at least 70% of the claims in your previous chapter 13 and the plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort.

Chapter 7, then Chapter 13: If your first discharge of debt was in a chapter 7 case, then you must wait four years before filing a chapter 13 case that will discharge your debts.

“Chapter 20″ Cases: In some cases you might want to file a chapter 13 case directly after filing a chapter 7 case even though you are not eligible to erase any of your debt. This can be done to pay a tax debt under the protection of the bankruptcy court or to pay home owner’s association dues.

Multiple Filings and the Automatic Stay

If your previous case was dismissed without a discharge within one year of the new case you intend to file, the automatic stay (the protection from your creditors that is imposed automatically upon the filing of a bankruptcy) may not apply without some special attention from your lawyer.

The automatic stay will only apply for 30 days if you had a previous case pending within the last year. Your lawyer will have to file a special motion to impose the stay beyond 30 days in these circumstances. If you have had two cases dismissed in the last year, then the automatic stay will not apply at all unless your lawyer files a motion showing the court why the current filing is not “in bad faith.”

If your case was not simply dismissed but instead was denied owing to untruthful statements or failure to follow court rules, you may have problems dismissing those same debts in any subsequent case. In this circumstance, you must hire an experienced bankruptcy attorney to help you.

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