Can You File for Bankruptcy More Than Once?
Queens, NY bankruptcy attorney advises on availability of multiple petitions
Bankruptcy is designed to give debtors a fresh start: a second chance at establishing a firm financial footing without the burden of crushing debt. Even if you’ve filed once for bankruptcy and find yourself mired in debt again, you may able to seek the remedy again as long as certain conditions are met. As a Queens bankruptcy lawyer for more than 28 years, I’ve often encountered clients facing this issue. If you’re in need of filing a second or subsequent bankruptcy, you can trust Mark E. Cohen, Esq. to deliver reliable advice and guidance about your options.
When to consider a second bankruptcy
Financial hardships can hit more than once in a short span of time. Even when you’ve done everything right — working steadily and reestablishing credit after bankruptcy — external forces such as a prolonged illness, a divorce or an economic downturn can leave you saddled with debt that you have no reasonable chance of paying off. When that happens, you may consider filing a subsequent bankruptcy. Too often, people hesitate to file bankruptcy a second time due to fears of doing harm to their creditworthiness. Instead, they delay, putting themselves even deeper into debt. But what good is worrying about how bankruptcy affects your credit when you can’t pay next month’s credit card bill?
Federal law on second and subsequent bankruptcies
You are permitted to file a second or subsequent bankruptcy if you observe the following time limits:
- Consecutive Chapter 7 filings — If you received a Chapter 7 discharge, you must wait at least eight years to file another Chapter 7 case.
- Consecutive Chapter 13 filings — You may file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy two years after the date you filed your first Chapter 13 case.
- Chapter 7 followed by Chapter 13 — If you received a discharge under Chapter 7, you must wait four years before filing under Chapter 13. An exception is a Chapter 20, which can be used to eliminate unsecured debts under Chapter 7 and then reorganize priority debts such as unpaid taxes and secured debts such as mortgage arrears under a Chapter 13 payment plan. In this scenario, the Chapter 13 case may be filed soon after the Chapter 7 discharge is issued.
- Chapter 13 followed by Chapter 7 — If the court granted a discharge under Chapter 13, you must wait six years from your Chapter 13 filing date before filing under Chapter 7. However, if during your first bankruptcy you paid your unsecured creditors in full or paid at least 70 percent of the total creditor claims, the court may permit you to file earlier.
If your debt was not discharged under your first bankruptcy, these filing restrictions usually do not apply.
There may be other debt relief options available to you, such as debt consolidation or a loan workout. As your counsel, I will discuss with you the full range of remedies and help you decide which course of action is most appropriate for your circumstances.
Contact an experienced bankruptcy lawyer in Queens, NY to discuss a second bankruptcy
Mark E. Cohen, Esq. provides bankruptcy advice and representation for clients in Queens and throughout New York City and its surrounding counties. To schedule a consultation, call 718-487-9979 or contact me online. My office is conveniently located on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.