Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in a situation where you need to declare bankruptcy — but you might. In fact, some people might want (or need) to file for bankruptcy on more than one occasion. It’s not as common as a single filing, but it certainly happens. When it does, what can you expect? How does the process work? And are there any pitfalls to watch out for?
At Maselli Warren, our bankruptcy attorneys have been representing individuals across New Jersey for over 25 years. We have the experience and practical know-how to help get you back on firm financial ground, so don’t hesitate and let deadlines pass you by. Call us today at (800) 891-2657, or contact us online to arrange for a legal consultation. Our consultations are always 100% confidential, and our attorneys are committed to working diligently with you to meet your legal needs. You can get back on your feet — Maselli Warren can help.
Time Limitations on Multiple Filings
If you have previously filed a petition for bankruptcy in the past, you are not legally able to file your next bankruptcy whenever you feel like it. Depending on the type of your past bankruptcy, the type of your present planned bankruptcy, and even the order they occurred in, there are different timelines which must be adhered to. It should be noted that the time limitations “count down” not from the date of your last discharge, but instead, from the date of your last filing.
In the state of New Jersey, residents are only allowed to file for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy once every eight years. Chapter 13 timelines are more relaxed: New Jersey residents are allowed to file for a Chapter 13 every two years. (It should be noted that individuals may be allowed to file for a second Chapter 13 even within the two-year time limit, but not for the purpose of discharging debts. For example, a petitioner may wish to file for purposes of halting creditor calls.)
If you filed for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy within the past four years, you will not be eligible to file for a Chapter 13 now.
If you filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy within the past six years, you will not be eligible to file for a Chapter 7 now, unless either of the following situations is true:
- In the previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, 100% of your unsecured debt (as opposed to secured debt) was paid.
- In the previous Chapter 13 bankruptcy, 70% of your unsecured debt was paid, the bankruptcy was negotiated in “good faith,” and you made your best efforts to pay off your unsecured debts in full.
Additionally, petitioners wishing to file for a second Chapter 13 bankruptcy must, again, be able to prove that they have the financial means to feasibly meet the payment plan requirements that Chapter 13 entails.
How Previous Bankruptcy Outcomes Affect Subsequent Filings
The outcome of your previous bankruptcy has a bearing on your current bankruptcy. For example, if your first bankruptcy case was dismissed rather than successfully discharged, you will be allowed to file again — however, depending on the reason for the dismissal, you may be obliged to wait a certain period of time. Petitioners will have to wait 180 days to file again if their former case was dismissed for any of the following reasons:
- Failure to obey a court order.
- Failure to appear in court.
- The case was voluntarily discharged.
If your previous bankruptcy case was neither dismissed nor discharged, and the case was instead denied discharge, you will be allowed to to file again. However, it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully discharge those debts a second time around.
Multiple Filings and the Automatic Stay
When an individual files for bankruptcy just once, the automatic stay is normally in effect for the duration of the bankruptcy. However, if an individual is filing for a second or even third time, the way the automatic stay works changes.
If you file for a second bankruptcy, and you had either a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case dismissed within the previous year, it is very important to note that the automatic stay lasts only for 30 days. If a petitioner for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy wishes to have this 30-day period extended, they must file paperwork with the court before the automatic stay goes into effect. The judge may approve the request for an extension if the petitioner is able to demonstrate that their financial circumstances have improved since the time of their previous dismissal (e.g. an increase in income). This is necessary because Chapter 13 bankruptcies require long-term payment plans.
If you have had two bankruptcy cases dismissed within the past year, there is no automatic stay.
The timing of multiple bankruptcies can be complicated, but at Maselli Warren, our attorneys know how to handle even the most complex and challenging of bankruptcy cases. Let us put our 25 years of experience to work for you. Contact us online, or call (800) 891-2657 today.