Chapter 7 bankruptcy is not available to everyone; there are certain qualifications you must meet in order to be eligible for Chapter 7 relief. Learn more here.
You cannot file Chapter 7 bankruptcy if during the past 180 days, you had a previous bankruptcy dismissed because you failed to appear in court or because you voluntarily dismissed it yourself after a creditor tried to repossess property.
If you received a discharge in a previous bankruptcy, there is no time limit on filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy again. However, there are limits on when you can get a discharge. You cannot get a Chapter 7 discharge if:
In most cases, it doesn't make sense to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you cannot get a discharge. However, in some situations, it might have some benefits. (To learn more, see Filing for Bankruptcy Multiple Times.)
Most debtors must pass the means test in order to qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Congress created the means test so that debtors with enough income to repay a certain portion of their debts would have to file a Chapter 13 instead of a Chapter 7.
You can pass the means test in one of two ways:
There are a few exceptions to the means test. You don't have to pass it if most of your debt is business debt, if you are a disabled veteran, or you are a military reservist or National Guard member who has been on active duty or has participated in homeland defense.
Learn more about eligibility for Chapter 7 in our section on The Means Test and Other Bankruptcy Eligibility Issues.