Filing a bankruptcy if you have already filed in the past
The general rules for filing successive bankruptcies are as follows:
Chapter 7 then Chapter 7
If you have filed a Chapter 7 case in which you received a discharge, you cannot file another Chapter 7 case until 8 years have passed since the date that you filed the first case.
For instance, if you filed a Chapter 7 case on April 1, 2004 and you received a discharge, you would be ineligible to file another Chapter 7 case until April 2, 2012.
Chapter 7 then Chapter 13
If you have filed a Chapter 7 case in which you received a discharge, you cannot obtain a discharge in a Chapter 13 case that is filed within 4 years after the Chapter 7 case was filed.
For instance, if you filed a Chapter 7 case on April 1, 2004 and you received a discharge, you could not receive a discharge in a Chapter 13 case unless it was filed after April 4, 2008
However, there are many benefits that can be had from a Chapter 13 other than the discharge. For instance, if you have lots of unsecured debt and you are behind in arrears on your home, you may be able to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to wipe out all of your unsecured debt, and then file a Chapter 13 to deal with the arrears. These are commonly called “Chapter 20 cases” (13 + 7 = 20). This is just one example of how you can use the flexibility of a Chapter 13 plan to restructure your debts.
Chapter 13 then Chapter 13
At least 2 years must have elapsed between the filing dates. Since most Chapter 13 cases take longer than 2 years to complete, filing successive Chapter 13 bankruptcies is usually not a problem.
Chapter 13 then Chapter 7
This one is a little more complicated than the other scenarios. Generally, you must wait 6 years between filing the two cases in order to receive a Chapter 7 discharge. However, this rule does not apply if in the Chapter 13 you: 1) paid back 100% of your unsecured debts; or 2) paid back less than 100%, but more than 70%, of your unsecured debts and your plan was proposed in good faith and represented your best efforts at paying back your debts.