How Long Do You Have to Wait Before Refiling Bankruptcy?

The U.S. federal courts use the Bankruptcy Code to establish bankruptcy regulations that apply to bankruptcy cases throughout the nation. These laws include requirements on eligibility for filing, how the filing process must work, fees for each chapter, discharge of debts and rules on refiling. Each rule varies according to the chapter for which you file, and it depends on the results you want to get by filing (either debt elimination or repayment).

Function

The purpose of a bankruptcy filing is to help you deal with your debts when they have become a burden that you cannot carry anymore. However, some debts in bankruptcy are non-dischargeable, such as student loans, taxes you owe, alimony and child support. For any other debts, after you file your petition and the court discharges them, you have the opportunity of starting over again and restructuring your life in such a way that you do not owe creditors more than you are able to pay. If you find yourself again in a situation where you cannot pay your debts, you can always refile for bankruptcy under certain conditions.

Refiling for Chapter 7

Chapter 7 is a type of bankruptcy filing that allows you to eliminate most or all of your debts and your responsibility to pay your creditors. The Bankruptcy Code allows you to refile for bankruptcy only under certain conditions. To refile for Chapter 7, you must wait 8 years if your first filing was also a Chapter 7 and 6 years if your first filing was for a Chapter 13. You must also meet the same requirements you met when you filed the first time: receive credit counseling from an approved agency within 180 days before filing and pass the means test. The means test compares your income with the average income of your state. To be eligible for Chapter 7, your income should not be higher than the average income.

Refiling for Chapter 13

Chapter 13 allows you to restructure your debts and create a repayment plan that you need to put into practice in a period of 3 to 5 years. You are also allowed to refile for Chapter 13 as long as you meet certain requirements. According to the Bankruptcy Code, to be eligible to refile for Chapter 13, you must not have filed for bankruptcy in the last 4 years if your first filing was a Chapter 7 and 2 years if your first filing was a Chapter 13. You also must meet other requirements: you must have received credit counseling within 180 days before your new filing, and you must have finished all your payments if you had a previous Chapter 13 filing.

Considerations

If you have already filed for bankruptcy previously, you already know all the consequences of it. Consider the effects that a new filing will have on your life and consider the alternatives to filing for bankruptcy again. The effects on your credit score will stay on your records for another seven to 10 years, and the fact that you have a new bankruptcy will make it even more difficult than before to obtain new lines of credit.