Does a previous bankruptcy prevent me from filing?

Rules for filing new bankruptcy caseIf you’ve filed bankruptcy before, your options to file again depend on:

  • what chapter you want to file now
  • what chapter you filed before
  • whether you received a discharge in the earlier case

My friend bankruptcy attorney Gene Melchionne pointed out that the rule runs


Two:  you can file a new Chapter 13  two years after  a previous  Chapter 13 case was filed.

Four:  you can file a new Chapter 13 four years after a prior Chapter 7 case was filed.

Six:  you can file a new Chapter 7 case six years after a prior Chapter 13 case was filed.

Eight:  you can file a new Chapter 7 eight years after a prior Chapter 7 was filed.

If your previous case was dismissed before discharge, it does not count in these considerations.

Note that the rule runs from the date the case was filed to the date the new case is filed.

You can file a Chapter 13 case after a Chapter 7 without any statutory time restrictions.

However, under the newly amended Code, you can only get a discharge in that Chapter 13 case if the 7, 11, or 12 previous case was filed more than 4 years ago; if the previous case was also a Chapter 13, two years must elapse between filings.

Some courts, however, question the debtor’s good faith, a necessary element to confirm a Chapter 13 plan, if they have recently filed Chapter 7 and received a discharge.

You can freely convert a pending case from one chapter to another.  It is the same case, even though the chapter is different, so these time considerations don’t apply.  Generally, you can only convert a Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 before the discharge is entered.

Image courtesy of uk and Wikimedia.

About the Author
Northern California bankruptcy lawyer Cathy is a 30+ year veteran of bankruptcy practice in the Silicon Valley. She is known for energetic representation of clients and her command of bankruptcy law.