The 2-4-6-8 Rule
Considering today's economic struggles, it is not unusual for a Debtor who has previously filed for bankruptcy to need to file a second time for relief from payments to creditors. It is not unusual for a debtor to ask, "How long do I have to wait before I can file for bankruptcy a second time and still get a discharge of allowable debts?"
- 2 years - If you previously filed a Chapter 13 case where you completed the plan and received a discharge, then you can file a second Chapter 13 case after 2 years and receive a discharge.
- 4 years - If you previously filed a Chapter 7 case and received a discharge, then after 4 years you can file a Chapter 13 case.
- 6 years - If you previously filed a Chapter 13 case and received a discharge, then after 6 years you can file a Chapter 7 case. There is an exception to this rule. If you paid 100% to all creditors in the first Chapter 13 case or the court finds that you made your best efforts to pay creditors at least 70% of your debts in the prior case, then the rule does not apply.
- 8 years - If you previously filed a Chapter 7 case, then after 8 years you can file another Chapter 7 case.
Of course, a key factor in these situations is whether the prior case was completed where a discharge order was entered. If the prior case was dismissed before discharge was granted, then a Debtor can refile a case without any limitations, except where the case was voluntarily dismissed by the Debtor. In that situation, there is a 180-day time limit before a Debtor can file a second case.