If I filed bankruptcy before, can I file again?
The answer is yes.
The more important question is, how soon do you have to wait in between bankruptcy cases?
Chapter 7 to another Chapter 7 (8 years):
If you filed a Chapter 7 case and received a discharge of debt , then you must wait 8 years in between filing another Chapter 7 case. See 11 U.S.C §727(a)(8).
Chapter 13 then Chapter 7 (6 years):
You must wait six years. See 11 U.S.C.§727(a)(9). However, if you paid 100% of your debts in the prior Chapter 13 case or paid at least 70% of your debts in the prior Chapter 13 case and the Bankruptcy Court found that this was your best effort then the 6-year rule does not apply. See 11 U.S.C.§Section 727(a)(9), provided you otherwise qualify (see my blog article on the "means" test)
Chapter 7 then Chapter 13 (4 years):
If you previously filed a Chapter 7 case and received a discharge of debt, then you would wait four years in between the prior Chapter 7 case and the new Chapter 13 case. See 11 U.S.C.§1328(f)(1). But, if after filing a Chapter 7 case you file a Chapter 13 case and you do not need a discharge of debt in the new Chapter 13 case, then you do not wait.
Chapter 13 to another Chapter 13 (2 years):
If you received a discharge of debt, meaning you completed your repayment plan in a prior Chapter 13 case, then you must wait two years before filing another Chapter 13 case or you will not receive a new discharge of debt in the new Chapter 13 case. See 11 U.S.C.§ 1328(f)(2). But, if you are not looking for a discharge of debt in the new Chapter 13 case, then you can file another one without waiting.
NO time (0 years):
If you are going to pay your creditors back 100% and do not need a discharge of debt, then you do not need to wait to file a Chapter 13 case. Why would you file a bankruptcy case and not care about discharging debt? A common answer is that you have fallen behind on your mortgage payments, or other types of payments, and you want to catch up and a Chapter 13 repayment plan would allow you to do that. For example, if you fall behind in your mortgage payments for several months, it is nearly impossible to catch up quickly and you do not want to lose your house, and a Chapter 13 payment plan would allow you to spread those arrearages over a repayment plan of 3-5 years.
"Good Faith Rule":
All cases must be filed in good faith to receive protection under the Bankruptcy Code, regardless as to timing.