How Many Times Can You File for Bankruptcy in California?

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Can You File Bankruptcy More Than Once?

Filling bankruptcy is a great way to get a fresh financial start. Sometimes, however, people struggle to get back on their feet as they hoped after a bankruptcy discharge and may need to file bankruptcy again.

Luckily, there is no limit to how many times you can file for bankruptcy in California. Instead, the limit is on how often you can get a bankruptcy discharge. This means that there is a waiting period after your dischargeable debts are forgiven in bankruptcy before you can file bankruptcy again. This period starts from the original filing date and not the discharge date.

So if you are wondering, “Can I file for bankruptcy again?” The short answer is yes. The long answer depends on when your last successful bankruptcy was. If your initial filing was for Chapter 7, and you want to file for another Chapter 7, you will need to wait for eight years. On the other hand, if you previously filed for Chapter 13 and are seeking another Chapter 13 relief, you must wait for two years.

If you are considering filing for a second or subsequent bankruptcy in California, our attorneys at Chang & Diamond, APC, can help you.

Filing a Second Bankruptcy After Chapter 7

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a type of bankruptcy where a court-appointed trustee sells some of your assets to pay creditors. If you received debt relief under this chapter, you will need to wait at least eight years before you can file again.

Chapter 7 to Chapter 13

If your first bankruptcy filing was for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you wish to file for Chapter 13, the waiting time is four years.

Filing a Second Bankruptcy After Chapter 13

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court-supervised process where the debtor develops a debt repayment plan for a period of three to five years. If your last Chapter 13 bankruptcy was successful, you must allow a period of two years before you can file again under the same chapter.

Chapter 13 to Chapter 7

If your previous bankruptcy discharge was under Chapter 13 and you want to file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, you will need to wait for six years. This waiting period is mandatory unless:

  • You repaid 100% of your unsecured debt under the plan
  • You repaid 70% of your unsecured debt and can prove that your proposed repayment plan was your best effort and in good faith.

Do You Have To Wait Before Filing Bankruptcy if You Didn’t Receive a Discharge?

The waiting periods imposed by the Bankruptcy Code only apply when you receive a discharge in your previous case. If your unsecured debts were not discharged, you don’t have to wait to file bankruptcy again. However, this is only true if your last bankruptcy petition within the last 180 days wasn’t:

  • Dismissed because you wilfully didn’t appear before the Bankruptcy Court or disobeyed a court order.
  • Withdrawn following a claim by your creditors to lift the automatic stay

Chapter 20: The Exception to the Rule

As you have read so far, the waiting times are very long. If you are in a bad place financially, waiting may not be an option. This is where Chapter 20 may come in handy.

While not a real bankruptcy type, Chapter 20 refers to filing Chapter 13 immediately after your Chapter 7 is completed without a waiting period. This is possible because your subsequent Chapter 13 case will not grant you a discharge. Instead, it gives you the ability to suspend creditor claims or debt collections and reorganize your debt payments. Remember, waiting periods only apply to discharges and not filing.

By filing Chapter 13 following Chapter 7, you will gain up to five years to repay whatever debts you couldn’t discharge through Chapter 7.

This process is not easy and requires the help of bankruptcy professionals. If you are considering filing for both Chapter 7 and 13, consult an experienced bankruptcy lawyer from Chang & Diamond, APC, to make sure it is the right call.

Are You Considering a Second or Subsequent Bankruptcy in California?

The Bankruptcy Code allows multiple bankruptcy filings but imposes waiting periods between discharges. However, there are exceptions and workarounds that may apply to your case. It is crucial to involve a knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney to get personalized legal advice and assist you in preparing for bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy attorneys at Chang & Diamond, APC, handle bankruptcy cases of all types and sizes and will do everything possible to get you the bankruptcy relief you need to start fresh. We have been serving the Southern California community for more than two decades and have a proven track record of success.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens if You File Second Bankruptcy Before the Waiting Period Ends?

If you file a second bankruptcy before the specified time limit elapses, the court may dismiss your bankruptcy case. Additionally, it may conclude that you acted in bad faith and are abusing the bankruptcy system. Therefore, the court may impose fines and bar you from filing for a certain amount of time.

What Are the Benefits of Subsequent Filings?

Subsequent filing can deliver you from debt not discharged in your previous bankruptcy case or you accumulated since.

How Long Does a Bankruptcy Stay On Your Record in California?

In California, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for ten years from the filing date, and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays for seven. This will affect your credit score negatively, but it is possible to rebuild your credit through well-calculated financial decisions.

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