You Can File Bankruptcy as Often as You’d Like, But…
While you can file bankruptcy as many times as you like. However, “wiping away” debts and getting a fresh start through the bankruptcy discharge is the primary goal of most debtors. The question therefore is not really “how often can you file for bankruptcy?” as much as it is how often can you receive a discharge of debts through bankruptcy?
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge Every Eight Years
Once you have already filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, the bankruptcy court will deny a discharge in a subsequent Chapter 7 case if you already received a discharge in your previous chapter 7 or chapter 11 case if it was filed within the last eight years. In simple terms, you can obtain a chapter 7 bankruptcy discharge every eight years. The eight year time period starts to run from the date your previous case was filed.
Previous Chapter 12 and 13 Bankruptcy Discharge
The bankruptcy court will also deny a Chapter 7 discharge if the debtor has previously received a discharge in a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 case filed within the last six years unless the debtor meets fairly strict requirements regarding the amount of debt she paid back in her chapter 13 case. Similarly, a debtor is ineligible for a second discharge under Chapter 13 if he or she received a prior discharge in a Chapter 7, 11, or 12 case filed within four years of the current case or in a Chapter 13 case filed within two years of the current case.
Bankruptcy Discharge Can Be Revoked
Additionally, bankruptcy courts may revoke a discharge under certain circumstances. For example, a trustee, creditor, or the U.S. trustee may request that the court revoke the debtor’s discharge in a Chapter 7 case based on allegations that the debtor obtained the discharge fraudulently. Typically, a request to revoke the debtor’s discharge must be filed within one year of the discharge or, in some cases, before the date that the case is closed. The court will decide whether such allegations are true and, if so, whether to revoke the discharge.
Complaints Seeking Revocation of Discharge Will Require Retaining Counsel
Keep in mind that the mere filing of an adversary proceeding (a lawsuit filed in the bankruptcy court) seeking to revoke the discharge will require hiring an attorney to answer the allegations of imporoper conduct. If these allegations are not addressed in a timely fashion, the debtor will lose their discharge by default. The possibility that a bankruptcy discharge can be revoked highlights the importance of full disclosure to your bankruptcy attorney. You must inform your bankruptcy attorney of all assets and debts in order to ensure that your discharge is not subsequently challenged.