Woman Filling in Bankruptcy Form

Can I File For Bankruptcy More Than Once? 

The Orantes Law Firm Aug. 31, 2022

Few would argue that over the past few years, we have witnessed significant changes in the American economy. Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic drastically shifted the way we purchase goods, but it appears that everything from homes, automobiles, gas and everyday items like milk and bread has drastically increased in price. Couple the nation's current economic status with the everyday financial changes most of us face and even the most detailed financial planner can find themselves overwhelmed and unsure how to navigate such trying times.   

But what happens when those that have experienced financial hardship in the past are now once again seeking a clean financial slate? Is it even possible for a person to file for bankruptcy more than once? Before addressing the essential question, it is vital to know that filing for bankruptcy in California can be extremely complex, especially for those that may have previously filed. Mistakes in the filing process can be costly and put your claim in jeopardy. Always remember, you don’t need to hit rock bottom before taking action and seeking guidance from a trusted bankruptcy attorney.   

At The Orantes Law Firm, our loyal bankruptcy attorney is here to help when you need it most. We have the resources, knowledge, and experience necessary to assist your specific situation. Also, our team enjoys helping our clients look to a brighter future after financial challenges. We proudly serve clients in Los Angeles, Irvine, and Orange County, California.  

Can I File More Than Once? 

The answer that probably brings some comfort is that there is no law that limits the number of times a person can file for bankruptcy. This means yes, you can attempt to file bankruptcy a second time and even a third. What makes answering "yes" to this question difficult is that even though there are no laws that prohibit a person from filing multiple times, there are rules and circumstantial considerations that can complicate and limit your ability to file again. Here are just a few practical considerations that can deny a claim:  

If the sole purpose of filing is to procrastinate or hinder creditors from collecting a debt, a bankruptcy judge can deny your claim. Additionally, each bankruptcy chapter has timestamps that must be elapsed in order to re-file. Simply put, you may be denied because not enough time has passed since you last filed for bankruptcy. Finally, you may not be eligible to file bankruptcy if a prior bankruptcy discharge was denied for reasons such as an attempt to defraud, refusal to comply with a court order, and failure to take a financial instructional course. 

Filing Under the Same

Bankruptcy Chapter 

Elapsed time is the first significant consideration for refiling bankruptcy. Here are some general guidelines to help determine if you are eligible to refile:  

Chapter 7 to Chapter 7 — Although Chapter 7 can provide the fastest resolution, it requires the longest waiting period of eight years to refile.    

Chapter 13 to Chapter 13 — Although most debt repayment plans under Chapter 13 span three years, you may be able to refile again under Chapter 13 in two years.  

Filing Under a Different

Bankruptcy Chapter 

Each bankruptcy chapter has its pros and cons. Be sure to speak with a trusted bankruptcy attorney to discuss your eligibility and determine the best option to refile. Listed below are the general timestamps to refile under a different chapter:  

Chapter 7 to Chapter 13 — If you first filed bankruptcy under Chapter 7, you will need to wait four years to file again under Chapter 13.   

Chapter 13 to Chapter 7 — Despite the standard waiting period of six years, individuals who have maintained good status in debt repayment and have repaid at least 70% of all debts under Chapter 13 may file Chapter 7 after one year. 

Refiling Bankruptcy After a Dismissal  

One of the most confusing aspects of refiling a bankruptcy chapter is regarding a previous dismissal of the bankruptcy. A bankruptcy claim can be dismissed either with or without prejudice.   

In most cases, bankruptcy claims that are dismissed without prejudice are almost immediately eligible to refile once errors are fixed, or missed steps in the initial process are completed. These steps usually consist of providing or filing the correct forms and submitting financial course completion certificates.   

On the other hand, if your previous claim was dismissed with prejudice, things become much more complicated. Generally speaking, courts may dismiss a bankruptcy claim with prejudice for failure to maintain good standing, follow court orders or intentionally delay creditors. Although a prior dismissal with prejudice isn’t a death sentence, it can be legally complex. Lean on an experienced bankruptcy attorney for direction if you find yourself in this scenario. 

Turn to Skilled Legal Action  

In the midst of trying times, you are not alone. Many families and businesses are currently experiencing financial hardship. Whether you have general questions about the bankruptcy process or are considering a refile, we are ready to help.  

At The Orantes Law Firm, we have the knowledge, experience, and reputation needed to help you get the second chance you deserve. To learn more about the ways we can help, contact us today. The team at The Orantes Law Firm provides legal representation through bankruptcy in Los Angeles County, as well as surrounding areas of Irvine and Orange County, California.