Can I file Chapter 13 Bankruptcy after a recent Chapter 7?

Occasionally, chapter 13 bankruptcy cases are filed by individuals who recently filed chapter 7 and obtained a chapter 7 discharge. As I noted in a post on filing second bankruptcy cases, a discharge in the chapter 13 case is unavailable unless 4 years have passed since the chapter 7 case was filed.

However, a discharge is not the only function of a chapter 13 bankruptcy. A chapter 13 plan can also be used to pay debts, both unsecured debt and secured debt, over time. Paying a debt over time isn't dependent on the availability of a discharge. Most importantly, a mortgage debt that is past due can be brought current in chapter 13 via a cure and maintain provision. Such a provision to pay the past due amount over 3 to 5 years can be used even after a chapter 7 discharge.

Sometimes, the term "Chapter 20 Bankruptcy" is used to refer to a chapter 13 following a chapter 7, especially in the situation were the chapter 13 was contemplated as a possibility prior to filing chapter 7. Good faith concerns can be important if the second case is filed immediately after the first case, and such serial filings are very much a tool for special circumstances.

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