Can You File Bankruptcy Twice, A Comprehensive review

Ever experienced a financial rollercoaster and faced bankruptcy a second time? It happens, and while it may feel daunting, this could be your chance at a fresh start. If you’re grappling with overwhelming debt post a prior bankruptcy, don’t lose hope just yet.

Dive into this blog post, your guide to navigating the complexities of filing for bankruptcy twice. We’ll explore the legalities involved and map out potential routes to reclaiming your financial independence. There’s light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re here to help you find it.

an image of Bankruptcy
We’ll explore the legalities involved and map out potential routes to reclaiming your financial independence. photo courtesy bankruptcy agencies

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Second Filing

Life has a way of throwing unexpected challenges our way. You budget diligently and work hard, but sometimes, the mountain of debt just keeps growing. Perhaps you’ve been down the Chapter 7 bankruptcy road before, finding temporary relief. Yet, here you are again, facing the resurgence of the debt monster, and you’re left wondering: “Can I file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy a second time?”

The answer, as with many legal matters, isn’t a straightforward yes or no. It hinges on various factors such as the timing of your previous filing, the nature of your initial bankruptcy, and your current financial situation. But fear not—we’re here to unravel the legal jargon and present the details in plain, understandable English.

Let’s Start By Revisiting Chapter 7 Bankruptcy:

Chapter 7 is a form of liquidation bankruptcy. Essentially, if you qualify, a court-appointed trustee will sell your non-exempt assets (like cars or surplus property) to settle your debts with creditors as much as possible. In return, you receive a discharge of most remaining debts, offering a clean slate for your financial journey.

Now, onto the burning question: filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy a second time and the waiting periods involved.

The law dictates specific waiting periods before you can initiate another bankruptcy filing. These durations differ based on the type of bankruptcy you previously filed and the one you’re contemplating now:

  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 7: You must wait eight years from the filing date of your previous Chapter 7 case.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: A six-year waiting period applies from the filing date of your prior Chapter 13 case.
  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: You can promptly file for Chapter 13 after your Chapter 7 discharge, provided you meet the means test and fulfill your Chapter 13 plan payments.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 13: A two-year waiting period is required from the date of your previous Chapter 13 filing.

Waiting Period For Filing Bankruptcy Twice

Type of previous bankruptcy:

  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 7: 8 years from the filing date of your previous Chapter 7 case.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 7: 6 years from the filing date of your previous Chapter 13 case.
  • Chapter 7 to Chapter 13: No waiting period, but you must meet the means test and complete your Chapter 13 plan payments.
  • Chapter 13 to Chapter 13: 2 years from the date you filed your previous Chapter 13 case.


  • Dismissed Case: If your previous bankruptcy case was dismissed due to failure to comply with court orders or fraudulent activity, you may need to wait only 180 days before filing again.
  • Hardship Exception: If you can demonstrate undue hardship, you may be able to file for Chapter 7 before the eight-year waiting period expires.

Here’s a visual breakdown to help you remember:

Previous Bankruptcy Second Filing Waiting Period
Chapter 7 Chapter 7 8 years
Chapter 13 Chapter 7 6 years
Chapter 7 Chapter 13 No waiting period (meet means test & complete payments)
Chapter 13 Chapter 13 2 years

Tips for remembering:

  • Think of it as a “cooling off” period: The longer wait times for Chapter 7 filings encourage responsible use of bankruptcy benefits.
  • Chapter 13 offers more flexibility: If you completed a Chapter 13 plan, the wait time for a second Chapter 13 is significantly shorter.
  • Exceptions exist: Consult a bankruptcy attorney if you believe you fall under an exception like dismissed cases or undue hardship.

Consequences Of Filing Bankruptcy Twice

While the consequences of filing for bankruptcy once are significant, a second filing introduces additional challenges that could be even more severe. Here’s a breakdown to help you anticipate what lies ahead:

  1. Extended Waiting Periods: The waiting periods to file for bankruptcy increase significantly for consecutive filings, potentially pushing your next financial recovery further into the future.
  2. Heightened Scrutiny: Prepare for stricter scrutiny from the court and creditors. Suspicion about your motives may rise, making approval of repayment plans or future credit extensions less likely.
  3. Elevated Filing Fees: Second-time filers may face higher bankruptcy-associated fees, adding to the financial strain you’re already experiencing.
  4. Worsened Credit Score: While the initial filing damages your credit score, filing for bankruptcy a second time can lead to further decline and a more prolonged recovery. This could impact your ability to rent, secure loans, and qualify for certain jobs.
  5. Emotional Toll: Bankruptcy is emotionally draining, and going through it again can intensify stress, potentially leading to anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
  6. Potential for Dismissal: If the court deems your second filing as frivolous or indicative of financial mismanagement, they may dismiss your case, leaving you without the protective shield of bankruptcy and back in your original debt situation.

Before considering another filing, explore alternative options:

  • Debt Consolidation: Merge your debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate to make them more manageable.
  • Credit Counseling: Seek guidance from a credit counselor to craft a budget and negotiate with creditors for debt reduction.
  • Debt Settlement: Engage in negotiations with creditors for a lump sum payment to settle your debt for less than the full amount.

Debt Consolidation vs. Bankruptcy

Debt Consolidation: A Friendly Financier

What it is: Imagine a financial makeover—combining all your debts into a new, more manageable loan with a lower interest rate. It’s like hitting the reset button on your monthly payments.


  • Financial Zen: Streamlines your finances, making budgeting a breeze.
  • Cost Saver: Potential for lower interest rates, reducing overall debt payments.
  • Credit Boost: On-time payments can gradually boost your credit score.
  • No Legal Drama: No courtroom showdowns and your assets stay untouched.


  • Full Repayment: You still pay off the entire debt, plus interest.
  • Credit and Income Check: Good credit and a steady income may be prerequisites.
  • Extended Repayment: There’s a risk of prolonging the repayment period.
  • Terms Change, Debt Remains: Doesn’t erase debt; just gives it a makeover.

Bankruptcy: The Legal Reset Button

What it is: Consider it a legal magic trick—under court supervision, some or all of your debts disappear.


  • Debt Magic: Can wipe out a substantial chunk of your debt, depending on the bankruptcy type.
  • Instant Shield: Immediate protection from creditor hassles and lawsuits.
  • Fresh Financial Start: A chance to rebuild your financial fortress.


  • Credit Hit: Credit score takes a hit, impacting future credit and loan prospects.
  • Asset Shuffle: Selling assets might be on the table to settle debts.
  • Legal Maze: Complex legal proceedings can be stressful.
  • Last Resort: A “last resort” option with long-lasting consequences.

Bankruptcy And Child Support

Can child support be discharged in bankruptcy?

In short, no. Child support and spousal maintenance fall under the category of “non-dischargeable debts” in bankruptcy. This means filing for bankruptcy won’t wipe out your child support obligations, both current and future. The court stands firm on holding you responsible for your children’s financial well-being.

Why is child support non-dischargeable?

The law puts children’s needs first. Discharging child support would directly impact their essentials—food, shelter, education—and undermine their overall welfare.

What happens to child support during bankruptcy?

  • Payments persist: Even after filing for bankruptcy, you must continue making ongoing child support payments.
  • Arrears endure: Any unpaid child support (arrears) before your bankruptcy filing date remains your responsibility.
  • Potential modification: If bankruptcy significantly alters your financial situation, you can seek a modification of your child support order. This involves demonstrating hardship and may lead to an adjustment, though it doesn’t guarantee a complete waiver.

Impact on the receiving parent:

  • Continued protection: The custodial parent’s right to receive child support remains intact, unaffected by the non-custodial parent’s bankruptcy.
  • Priority status: Child support may be considered a “priority debt” in bankruptcy, directing available funds towards settling arrears before unsecured debts.

Navigating this complex situation:

  • Legal guidance: Consulting family law and bankruptcy attorneys is crucial for understanding rights and options throughout the process.
  • Communication is key: Open dialogue between parents helps avoid legal complications and ensures consistent financial support for the children.
  • Focus on the children: Despite financial challenges, prioritize your children’s well-being and access to resources.

Discharge Of Debt

Not all debts are created equal in the bankruptcy arena.

  • Non-dischargeable debts: Child support, alimony, and most student loans remain your responsibility post-bankruptcy.
  • Dischargeable Debts: Common debts like credit card balances, medical bills, personal loans, and certain tax debts can often be discharged through bankruptcy.

Understanding Types of Bankruptcy and Discharge:

  • Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: Known as “liquidation bankruptcy,” it involves selling non-exempt assets to settle debts. A successful filing typically results in a discharge of remaining debts.
  • Chapter 13 Bankruptcy: Dubbed “reorganization bankruptcy,” it allows for a repayment plan to settle a portion of debts over time. Completion of the plan leads to a discharge of any remaining unpaid debts.

Eligibility for Discharge:

  • Qualification Criteria: Meeting specific income and other requirements based on the chosen bankruptcy chapter is essential. Consulting a bankruptcy attorney helps clarify eligibility and navigate the legal process.

Consequences of Discharge:

  • Credit Score Impact: While offering substantial debt relief, discharge can harm your credit score for several years, affecting future loan or credit card approvals.
  • Emotional Strain: The bankruptcy process may bring emotional challenges, coupled with potential societal stigma.

Alternatives to Discharge:

  • Explore Options: Before opting for bankruptcy, consider alternatives like debt consolidation, credit counseling, or direct negotiations with creditors. These paths may help manage debt without the legal and financial repercussions of bankruptcy.

Final Note:

  • Strategic Consideration: Discharge is a potent tool for overwhelming debt but warrants careful thought alongside alternative solutions. Seek guidance from a qualified financial professional or bankruptcy attorney to make the best decision for your unique situation.


Is it legal to file for bankruptcy twice?

  • Yes, it is legal to file for bankruptcy more than once. However, there are some restrictions and limitations to keep in mind.

What is the mandatory waiting period between a first and second bankruptcy filing?

  • The waiting period depends on several factors, including whether the initial bankruptcy case was dismissed or discharged, what chapter you filed in the first case, and what chapter you plan to file in your second bankruptcy case.

Can I file for bankruptcy more than once?

  • Yes, you can file for bankruptcy as many times as you need to, but you usually have to wait between filings. The waiting period depends on several factors, including whether the initial bankruptcy case was dismissed or discharged, what chapter you filed in the first case, and what chapter you plan to file in your second bankruptcy case.

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