This is a very good question, and a bit tricky depending on the circumstances.
First, you need to know if your debts were discharged under Chapter 7 or 13 . The rules are different for each.
Secondly, it depends on which Chapter you want to file this time.
Here are the general rules:
Filing Under the Same Bankruptcy Chapter: Chapter 7 v. Chapter 13
If you are filing under the same bankruptcy chapter, the time frames are different depending on whether you are filing for successive Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 cases.
Successive Chapter 7 Cases
If you received your first discharge under a Chapter 7, you cannot receive a second discharge in any Chapter 7 case that is led within eight years from the date that the first case was filed.
Successive Chapter 13 Cases
If you received your first discharge under Chapter 13, you cannot receive a second discharge in any Chapter 13 case that is filed within two years from the date that the first case was filed.
This can get tricky if you file your second Chapter 13 case between two and six years from the first Chapter 13 and the court refuses to confirm your Chapter 13 plan in the second case. Normally, if your plan is not confirmed you could convert to a Chapter 7 case. But in this situation, the rules for receiving a Chapter 7 discharge after a Chapter 13 discharge would kick in (see below) and prevent you from getting a discharge in the converted case.
Filing Under Different Chapters: The Order Matters
If the second bankruptcy case you want to file is under a chapter that is different from the chapter you received your first discharge under, the order determines the time frame.
Chapter 13, Then Chapter 7
If your first discharge was granted under Chapter 13, you cannot receive a discharge under any Chapter 7 case that is filed within six years from the date that the Chapter 13 was filed. The only exceptions to the six-year waiting period are:
if you paid all unsecured creditors in full in the Chapter 13, or if you paid at least 70% of the claims in the Chapter 13 and the plan was proposed in good faith and was your best effort.
Chapter 7, Then Chapter 13
If your first discharge was granted under Chapter 7, you cannot receive a discharge under any Chapter 13 case that is filed within four years from the date that the Chapter 7 was filed.
This can get tricky if you file your second case (the Chapter 13) between four and eight years after the Chapter 7 case and the court does not confirm your Chapter 13 plan. Normally, if your Chapter 13 plan is not confirmed, you could convert the case to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, in this situation, the rules for successive Chapter 7 discharges would kick in, preventing you from getting a discharge in the converted case. In this case, it might make sense to simply dismiss the Chapter 13 case.
Call and speak to a Church and Korhonen, PC bankruptcy lawyer, (800)758-5611 today if you live in the Upper Peninsula.