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How often can bankruptcy be filed?

It can be difficult for some Florida residents to bounce back from bankruptcy. There are many things that can happen to put a person in financial distress. Unemployment or underemployment can reduce available funds to pay bills. Children can have unanticipated expenses. The combination of external factors may lead to an overwhelming amount of credit card debt. When continuing financial difficulties make it difficult to recover, a person might wonder how much time must pass before it is acceptable to file for another bankruptcy.

There are two types of consumer bankruptcies. A person may file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and have debts discharged once in an eight-year period. However, it may be possible to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy before the eight years has passed. A Chapter 13 differs from Chapter 7 in that it allows for repayment of some of a person's debts over either three to five year period. The consumer will make payments according to a bankruptcy budget, which could be as low as $100 per month.

Filing for bankruptcy does not prevent a bank from foreclosing when homeowners are unable to make mortgage payments. However, it may be possible to negotiate a loan modification with the lender to help avoid losing the property.

A bankruptcy attorney may be able to help struggling consumers by handling telephone calls and inquiries from creditors. An attorney may also be able to help delay creditors and avoid having lawsuits filed against the client. In this way, a person that is waiting to file for another Chapter 7 bankruptcy might be able to buy some extra time that will allow debts to be discharged. An attorney may also be able to help negotiate a loan modification to delay or avoid foreclosure proceedings.

Source: FOX Business, "Too Soon to File for Bankruptcy Again?", Justin Harelik, August 14, 2013

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