Technically, there are no restrictions on the number of times a person can file for bankruptcy. However, after a discharge in a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 case, the bankruptcy petitioner may have to wait for a period of time before he or she can file for bankruptcy again. The time periods that apply to California filers vary based on the types of bankruptcy involved.

A person who wants to file a second Chapter 7 bankruptcy after their first Chapter 7 was successfully discharged, for example, is required to wait until eight years have passed from the date of the original filing. If the first bankruptcy was Chapter 13, the person has to wait six years following the discharge of the Chapter 13 case before filing for Chapter 7. In some situations, it may be possible to file earlier, but only if the petitioner has paid off at least 70 percent of the requirements of their Chapter 13 plan.

In a case where the person first filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, he or she can file for Chapter 13 protection once four years have passed from the initial Chapter 7 filing date. This combination is sometimes referred to informally as Chapter 20 bankruptcy. Finally, a petitioner who wants to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy for a second time can typically do so right away after the first Chapter 13 case has been discharged and closed.

California residents who are struggling financially might have options to reduce or eliminate outstanding debts. A lawyer with experience in bankruptcy law might be able to help by analyzing the situation and laying out the different options. Legal counsel might draft and file a petition to begin a bankruptcy case or work with clients and their creditors to find a solution for the parties. Collections efforts must cease when a bankruptcy case is filed because the filing prompts an automatic stay of creditor actions.