If you’ve already filed for bankruptcy once in New York, can you file again? The short version of the answer is, “yes.” But how long you have to wait before you may do so depends on what chapter you originally filed, which one you intend to file this time, and whether or not your first bankruptcy was discharged.

Filing under the same chapter

If you filed Chapter 7 during your first bankruptcy and were subsequently discharge, you must wait at least eight years to file another Chapter 7 case, as you cannot receive a discharge for a case filed any sooner. With Chapter 13, the waiting period is two years from the date your first case was filed.

There are circumstances when filing a second bankruptcy can be tricky. If you file Chapter 13 for second time around and the court does not accept your proposed debt reorganization plan, technically you can convert your case to Chapter 7. But unless enough time has passed, you won’t be able to get a discharge in the converted case unless certain conditions were met with your Chapter 13 (see next section).

Filing under different chapters

When you want to file under a different chapter, the required waiting period depends on which bankruptcy you went through the first time.

If your first bankruptcy discharge was received under Chapter 7, then you generally need to wait four years from your original filing date to file for Chapter 13. Under certain conditions, however, you might be able to file Chapter 13 immediately after your Chapter 7 discharge, a process known as a Chapter 20. Its purpose is to allow you to eliminate unsecured debts via Chapter 7, and then pay off a tax debt or catch up on mortgage payments via a Chapter 13. Since you filed less than four years after your Chapter 7 discharge, however, you will not be eligible for a Chapter 13 discharge.

If, on the other hand, you filed Chapter 13 first and now want to seek protection under Chapter 7, then you need to wait at least six years if you hope to receive a discharge. The only exceptions to this rule are if you paid all of your unsecured creditors in full in your Chapter 13 or, at the very least, 70% of all open claims provided you made a sincere attempt to satisfy all of them.

What if the first bankruptcy was not discharged?

If your first case was not discharged, then you can usually file again without restrictions in place on your second discharge. You might have to wait 180 days if your case was dismissed for cause (or you voluntarily dismissed it), but this is not a hard and fast rule. If the discharge was denied, you could also file again, but you may not receive a discharge from the debts in your first filing.

For questions about filing a second bankruptcy in New York, contact an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will give you the best advice for your particular circumstances.