How Often Can You File a Chapter 7?

Technically, you can file Chapter 7 bankruptcy as often as you want. However, you're not likely to benefit from filing multiple times unless you observe the rules of the court regarding bankruptcy discharges and dismissals. The time frame for filing and refiling legitimate Chapter 7 cases varies depending on that status of any previous filings you have. You'll also have to pay new filing fees -- $335 as of the time of publication -- with every new petition.

Filing After a Previous Discharge

If you filed a successful Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in the past, you ended up with a discharge. A bankruptcy discharge typically wipes out all of your consumer debt and is the goal of a Chapter 7 filing. Since Chapter 7 cases usually don't require any payments to creditors or the liquidation of any assets, the discharge can be an immense financial relief for a debtor. As a result, the courts won't allow you to file a new Chapter 7 case and receive a discharge until eight years have passed since your last discharge.

Filing After a Dismissal

The bankruptcy court frowns on debtors who have Chapter 7 cases dismissed, so you will face certain penalties if you want to refile after a dismissal. If your case was dismissed due to a simple clerical error or some type of procedural omission on your part, you can file another case immediately. If your dismissal was due to a more egregious error, such as the filing of a fraudulent petition, you cannot file for 180 days after your dismissal.

Warning

Although you can save some money by filing your own bankruptcy case, simple mistakes can result in the dismissal of your case. You may want to consider consulting a bankruptcy attorney to avoid the consequences of a dismissed Chapter 7.

Filing Multiple Times and the Automatic Stay

The automatic stay is one of the most important features of a bankruptcy case. As soon as you file a Chapter 7 case, your creditors can no longer contact you about your debts until the resolution of your case. One consequence of filing Chapter 7 multiple times is that the duration of the automatic stay is shortened. If you file a new Chapter 7 case after a dismissal, the automatic stay only lasts for 30 days. If you have submitted two bankruptcy petitions within the last 12 months, you do not receive any benefits of the automatic stay.