Before delving into this question, we must first address a matter of semantics: When using the word ‘file’ in the literal sense of delivering a bankruptcy petition to the court clerk, there is technically no limit to the frequency with which you can file for bankruptcy. But the mere act of delivering a bankruptcy petition to the court will not accomplish any discharge of debt.

Since relief from one’s debts is generally the goal behind initiating a bankruptcy proceeding, perhaps a more apropos question is how long a Will County resident must wait to receive another discharge of debt. The answer to this question depends on which bankruptcy chapter you previously received a discharge under, and which chapter you hope to receive a discharge under next.

If you have previously discharged debt under Chapter 7, you must wait at least eight years to receive another discharge under Chapter 7. If you have previously received a discharge under Chapter 13, you must wait at least two years to receive another discharge under Chapter 13.

Note that there is also a waiting period between discharges under different bankruptcy chapters. You must wait four years to discharge debt under Chapter 13 if your previous bankruptcy proceeding was under Chapter 7. Conversely, if your previous case was under Chapter 7 and you now want to pursue relief under Chapter 13, the typical waiting period is six years (there are exceptions to this six-year waiting period, however).

As mentioned above, there is technically no waiting period for filing successive bankruptcy petitions, only for receiving successive discharges. While this distinction is essentially irrelevant if your goal is to discharge debt, there are some instances in which it is strategic to file for bankruptcy before you are eligible for another discharge. These cases are commonly referred to as “Chapter 20” bankruptcy proceedings. (This is an informal term, as there is no Chapter 20 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.) A Joliet or Will County bankruptcy attorney can help you determine whether a “Chapter 20” filing would be helpful for you.

In sum, if you have previously availed yourself of bankruptcy relief and are again seeking to discharge eligible debts, keep in mind the various waiting periods described in this article. Filing too soon after your previous bankruptcy will be a waste of your time and money, so be sure to consult a Will County bankruptcy lawyer if you are considering filing again. To discuss your situation with an experienced attorney, contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220 to set up a free consultation.