Can I File for Bankruptcy Twice in Pennsylvania?

Most people who file for bankruptcy will only do so once in their lifetime.  However, there are some situations where people may need to file for bankruptcy a second time.  If you’re thinking of filing for bankruptcy again in Pennsylvania, what do you need to know?  How is a second bankruptcy different than a first?

How Soon Can I File for Bankruptcy Again?

Technically speaking, there actually isn’t a set amount of time you need to wait after your first bankruptcy concludes before you can file a second time.  However, there’s an important distinction to be aware of here: while you can file again as soon as you like, you cannot receive a discharge until a certain time frame has passed.  Those time frames change based on the type of bankruptcy involved, and the countdown begins from the date that you filed the first case.

If your first bankruptcy was a Chapter 7, and you want to file a second Chapter 7, you cannot receive a second Chapter 7 discharge until at least eight years have passed.

If your first bankruptcy was a Chapter 13, and you want to file a second Chapter 13, you cannot receive a second Chapter 13 discharge until at least two years have passed.

But what if you want to “mix and match”?

Switching Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

It’s entirely possible that your first bankruptcy was a Chapter 7, and now you’re thinking of switching to Chapter 13 (or vice versa).  Does that affect the waiting period for a discharge?

The short answer is yes, it does.

If your first bankruptcy was a Chapter 7, and you want to file a Chapter 13, you cannot receive a Chapter 13 discharge on the second bankruptcy until at least four years have passed.

If your first bankruptcy was a Chapter 13, and you want to file a Chapter 7, you cannot receive a Chapter 7 discharge on the second bankruptcy until at least six years have passed. However, there are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. You successfully paid all of your unsecured creditors during your first bankruptcy.  Unsecured creditors are creditors who are not “secured” by collateral.  (For example, a mortgage lender would be a secured creditor, because the loan is secured by the home.)
  2. You successfully paid off a minimum of 70% during your first bankruptcy, and demonstrated good faith.  In the context of bankruptcy, “good faith” essentially means that you were honest (e.g. didn’t commit fraud, hide any of your assets, and put your disposable income toward paying off your debts).

Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney

What to Do if the First Bankruptcy Was Never Discharged

“If at first you don’t succeed, then try again.”  If your first bankruptcy was never discharged due to either dismissal or denial, how does that affect a second filing?

If your first bankruptcy was dismissed, you may file again without a time limit unless the court states differently. It should be noted that if you have a previous case dismissal from within the past year, the automatic stay will only last for 30 days unless you can demonstrate good faith in your second bankruptcy.

If your first bankruptcy was denied, it is unlikely — but not impossible — that you will be granted a discharge for your original debts.  A skilled Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney can help obtain the best possible results.

Call an Experienced Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Lawyer Now

Bankruptcy has helped millions of Pennsylania residents to end creditor harassment, manage their debts, and take back control of their lives.  If you would like to schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with a bankruptcy attorney, or if you simply have questions about how bankruptcy may be able to help you, call the law offices of Young, Marr, Mallis & Associates today at (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania, or contact us online.

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