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How Often Can Someone File Bankruptcy?

  • By: Christopher Benson
  • Published: October 6, 2014

There are many myths about bankruptcy—some have to do with what bankruptcy actually does, how it affects your ability to obtain new credit, what assets you get to keep, even what kind of people file for bankruptcy. Today we are looking at how often you can file bankruptcy in your lifetime.

Have you ever heard someone say that you can only file for bankruptcy once in your entire life? It’s not true.

There are actually multiple answers to the questions depending on the type of bankruptcy that is actually filed.

In reading the information below, the key words are date “filed” and the word “discharge.”

1. 8-Year Rule Concerning Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A debtor cannot receiving a discharge under Chapter 7 if he or she received a discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy which was filed within 8 years before the present case is filed.  [11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(8)]

2. 6-Year Rule Concerning Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

A debtor cannot receive a discharge under Chapter 7 if he or she received a discharge in a Chapter 12 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy which was filed within 6 years before the present case is filed.  [11 U.S.C. § 727(a)(9)]

3. 4-Year Rule Concerning Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

A debtor cannot receive a discharge under Chapter 13 if he or she received a discharge in a Chapter 7, Chapter 11 or Chapter 12 bankruptcy which was filed within 4 years before the present case is filed.  [11 U.S.C. § 1328(f)(1)]

However:  In some circumstances a Chapter 13 may be of significant benefit even if a discharge will not be received.  You can still file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is less than 4 years; However, you have to propose a plan to pay back 100% of your unsecured debt and catch-up on any mortgage delinquencies during the plan duration.

If you have any questions, meet with a bankruptcy attorney for free to find out your options.  Don’t rely on what your friends or co-workers tell you.  They may mean “well” however, they are not experienced bankruptcy lawyers.

Over the past 27 years, the Law Offices of Christopher A. Benson has helped over 2,300 of Washington clients take control of their financial situation. We can stop your garnishment and change your monthly payments for all your combined unsecured debt, and if you have had more than $600 garnished within the last 90 days, we can get all of the money back in most cases. But you have to act quickly–call (253) 815-6940 for your free consultation, or email us today. Evening and weekend appointments available.

Christopher Benson

About the Author Chris served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity
Seattle/S. King County for 10 years and served as Vice President
of the organization during part of that time. Read More