10 Common Bankruptcy Questions

Can I Declare Bankruptcy More Than Once?
Protesters demand that student loan debt be cancelled if bankruptcy is declared. So far, the U.S. government hasn't changed their mind on that issue. © Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix/Demotix/Corbis

Sadly, it's not uncommon for people to declare bankruptcy multiple times. Like everything else associated with declaring bankruptcy, there are rules governing the waiting period between multiple filings, and they're just as confusing as everything else [source: Illinois Legal Aid]:

  • If your original bankruptcy was a Chapter 7 case, you have to wait at least eight years from when it was filed before you can declare another Chapter 7 bankruptcy
  • If the first bankruptcy was a Chapter 13 and the second is a Chapter 7, you must wait at least six years between filings
  • You can technically file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy right after declaring Chapter 7, but you won't get a discharge until four years after the Chapter 7 discharge (not the Chapter 7 filing date). During the waiting period, you can make payments through your repayment plan.
  • The waiting period between two Chapter 13 cases is only two years, but since it takes at least three years to receive a discharge from a Chapter 13 case, it's unlikely anyone would file multiple Chapter 13s so quickly.

If you still have questions about bankruptcy or want to learn more managing debt, check out the related HowStuffWorks articles on the next page.

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