When Can You Refile a Dismissed or Completed Bankruptcy?
If you file for bankruptcy, the hope is that you will never need another one. However, often, multiple bankruptcies may be needed by consumers throughout their lifetime. In some cases, that’s because their original bankruptcy was dismissed before a discharge was entered, and the consumer was never freed from their debts. In other cases, the discharge was entered, but unfortunate circumstances have led to the consumer needing another bankruptcy.
Multiple Chapter 7 Bankruptcies
Consumers who file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and obtain a discharge must wait another eight years before they file another Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That means that if you get a bankruptcy discharge, you should be very cautious with your financial situation.
Additionally, you may find that you have unexpected offers for credit after your discharge (although not offers with great interest rate terms). Creditors know that you cannot file another bankruptcy for eight years, and thus, they know that there is a likelihood of collecting whatever debt you end up owing to them.
Refiling Chapter 13
Chapter 13 is a little more flexible when it comes to refiling bankruptcy cases.
If you obtained a Chapter 13 discharge—that is, you paid off a Chapter 13 plan in full—you must wait four to six years before filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You only need to wait two years to file another Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
In some cases, your bankruptcy may be dismissed without a discharge. This often happens when the consumer can’t or doesn’t want to file the required paperwork necessary for obtaining the discharge, or when the consumer doesn’t appear at the 341 meeting of creditors. Although no discharge is entered, the good news is that you can immediately refile another bankruptcy case.
However, in some cases, a consumer may have to wait 180 days to refile. This applies when the debtor requests dismissal of the bankruptcy, or where the consumer fails to comply with certain orders or requirements of the court.
Even if you can refile your bankruptcy case after a dismissal, in some cases the automatic stay—the stop on all collection activities which normally is automatically enacted when a bankruptcy is filed—may be shortened, or not enacted or in effect at all.
Remember as well that if your bankruptcy is dismissed—especially in a Chapter 13—secured creditors, like mortgage lenders or lenders on car loans, may continue repossession or foreclosure activities when the Chapter 13 is dismissed.
If your Chapter 13 is at risk of being dismissed for missing a payment, you can ask for the court to allow you the opportunity to bring your payments current. This will avoid the need to wait the required time period (as well as the other costs and hassles) or refiling your Chapter 13 completely.
Call the West Palm Beach bankruptcy lawyers at Kelley Fulton Kaplan & Eller at 561-264-6850 for help, whether this is your first bankruptcy or not. We can help you understand your rights.