For a lot of debtors, there is only one thing worse than filing for bankruptcy and that is having to file again. But it happens. While there are urban myths of the serial bankruptcy filer, I have not encountered one yet. My clients really don’t want to be in my office let alone coming back to see me years later and file for bankruptcy again. I have had clients fall on hard times, file for bankruptcy, rebuild their credit, only to lose their job years later and have to start over.
While there is no limit on the number of times or how frequently you can file, if there isn’t enough time in between filings, the debtor will not get a discharge. And discharge of the debt is really the goal of course. A common example is the debtor who files for Chapter 7 but, a few years later, he falls behind in his house payments. A Chapter 13 will allow him to save his house and force the bank to take a repayment plan even if it doesn’t allow for a discharge of any new debt incurred after the prior Chapter 7.
So here is your handy-dandy cheat sheet of how much time has to pass between bankruptcy filings in order to get a discharge:
- 8 years between Chapter 7s.
- 2 years between Chapter 13s.
- 4 years between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13.
- 6 years between a Chapter 13 and a Chapter 7 (if you repaid under 70% of your unsecured debt).
The time begins running from the date of filing not the date of the discharge.
Keep in mind that there is a big difference between a “discharge” and a “dismissal.” A discharge gets rid of your debt. A dismissal gets rid of your case and your debt is not discharged.
“W” also stands for:
- Wage garnishment
- Wasteful spending habits
- Wages not safe in bank
- Wage earner bankruptcy