If you have previously filed for bankruptcy in Will County,, Illinois or elsewhere and successfully received a discharge of debt, you must wait a number of years to avail yourself of bankruptcy relief again. The exact period between filings in Will County depends on which bankruptcy chapter you received your previous discharge under, and which chapter you are looking to file under in the future.

The waiting periods between successive filings under the same chapter are as follows:

• Between successive Chapter 7 cases: 8 years
• Between successive Chapter 13 cases: 2 years

If you are looking to file under a different chapter than your last bankruptcy proceeding, the waiting period is different and depends on whether your previous discharge was under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13:

• Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13:
If your previous discharge was under Chapter 7 and you are now trying to file under Chapter 13, the waiting period is four years. But note that even if you wait four years to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the court still has to confirm your Chapter 13 plan. Normally, if your plan is not confirmed under Chapter 13 you can convert the case into a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and proceed from there. But if it has not been at least eight years since your last Chapter 7 filing, you cannot utilize this conversion option.

• Between Chapter 13 and Chapter 7:
If your previous discharge was under Chapter 13 and you are now trying to file under Chapter 7, the typical waiting period is six years. However, there are exceptions: You can potentially skip this six-year waiting period if you fully paid all unsecured creditors in the Chapter 13 case, or if you paid at least 70 percent of the claims in the Chapter 13 case and you acted honestly and made your best effort to pay off all the debts you could.

Of course, there’s a technicality. Under U.S. bankruptcy law, the waiting period between successive bankruptcy cases technically applies not to your ability to file but to your ability to receive successive discharges. In most cases, this distinction is insignificant since the majority of people who file for bankruptcy do so for the purpose of discharging their debts. Yet in a handful of cases, there may be a benefit to filing even though you know the requisite waiting period has not yet passed. These instances are commonly referred to as a Chapter 20 bankruptcy, and they only apply to Chapter 13 cases filed immediately after a successful Chapter 7 discharge. Whether a Chapter 20 proceeding would be of any benefit to you under Will County case law depends entirely on the circumstances of your case. Be sure to ask an experienced Joliet bankruptcy attorney if this is an route you should consider.

So those are your options if you previously filed for bankruptcy and received a discharge of debt. But what if you did not receive a discharge in your prior proceeding? Since the waiting periods technically govern the receipt of successive discharges and not your ability to file, a prior bankruptcy proceeding that did not culminate in a discharge will not limit your ability to file again. This commonly occurs in two scenarios: either your previous bankruptcy case was dismissed, or your petition for discharge was denied.

If your previous bankruptcy case was dismissed, there may be a 180-day waiting period before you can refile (for example, if the dismissal was for failure to obey court orders, failure to appear for scheduled meetings, or perhaps even if you voluntarily dismissed your own case).

If your previous bankruptcy case ended in a denial of all discharges, you can typically refile immediately. But remember, you generally cannot receive a discharge of any debt which was previously denied. Again, the circumstances matter, so consult an experienced Joliet bankruptcy attorney to better understand your options.

To discuss your individual situation with a reliable and affordable Will County bankruptcy attorney, please contact Hamilton & Antonsen at 815.729.9220.

Written by: Sarah Hanneken