How Many Times Can I File for Bankruptcy?
If you have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 before, can you do the same again? Can a debtor in Arizona file for bankruptcy multiple times? It’s not uncommon for Arizonians to fall into hard times and become severely indebted once or twice. Technically, it is possible to file for bankruptcy more than once under Arizona law and the applicable federal laws. However, the law specifies certain circumstances under which a debtor can actually do that.
BAPCPA and Multiple Bankruptcy Filings
In 2005, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act (BAPCPA) went into to effect. The law made it less easy for debtors to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The idea is to prevent unwarranted practices by higher income individuals who file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to take advantage of its debt discharge clauses. BAPCPA aimed to force rich debtors to file for Chapter 13 instead and to pay back what they owe under a court-mandated payment plan.
As a result of BAPCPA, there are now several significant limitations for multiple Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy filings in Arizona.
What are the Limits on Multiple Bankruptcy Filings?
Here is a list of the most significant limitations to multiple bankruptcies that debtors should be aware of:
- Debtors must wait for at least 8 years before filing for another Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The days are counted from the day the debtor filed the first Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. From then on, the debtor must wait exactly 8 years before filing for bankruptcy under the same chapter once again.
- Debt discharges during the second bankruptcy could be more impaired based on discharges offered during the earlier bankruptcy filings. For example, if you are filing for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot obtain a debt discharge if you were granted an earlier Chapter 13 debt discharge in the previous two years. If you have obtained a debt discharge under Chapter 7 in the previous 4 years, then you can’t get a Chapter 13 discharge for a new case. However, this doesn’t prevent you from being able to file for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
- You can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy regardless of how many bankruptcies you have filed before. There are certain circumstances, such as owning too much mortgage debt, that allow debtors to do this. Chapter 13 filings are accepted even for issues like needing a payment plan to pay off taxes owed.
- Filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, regardless of precious bankruptcy history, enables automatic stay on a current debt between three to five years. However, the court must be specifically requested to enforce the automatic stay if you have had a bankruptcy dismissed by the court during the previous 12 months.
The above limitations are not too restrictive when it comes to filing for another bankruptcy. If your case is complicated, you must consult with an experienced Arizona bankruptcy attorney. Keep in mind that you may not be able to keep filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in rapid succession as per the recently amended rules and regulations.