Can I file bankruptcy and then start a new job?

There are a couple of issues here: First, will your bankruptcy filing affect your ability to find a new job? And second, if you do find a new job, will it affect your bankruptcy case?

Bankruptcy Discrimination

Federal law prohibits potential government employers from discriminating against applicants because they have filed for bankruptcy. However, there's no similar protection for applicants for private employment. Although private employees -- those who already have jobs -- may not be fired or otherwise treated differently because they filed for bankruptcy, this protection doesn't explicitly extend to job seekers.  

Will a New Job Affect Your Bankruptcy Case?

If your new job will not result in a significant increase in income, it probably won't have any effect on your bankruptcy case. However, if your income will rise substantially (for example, because you've been out of work for a while or your previous job paid a lot less), there may be an impact on your bankruptcy.  

If you filed under Chapter 7, you had to take the means test, showing either that your average income in the six months before you filed either was less than the median income in your state or that, if it was higher, you didn't have enough disposable income, after paying allowed expenses, to pay off some of your debt. A new job won't affect your past income, of course. But even though you passed the means test, the bankruptcy court can still kick you out of Chapter 7 if it finds, under the totality of the circumstances, that you could afford a Chapter 13 repayment plan. A new job, especially one with high pay, might cause the court to take another look at your filing and finances.  

If you filed under Chapter 13, your repayment plan had to devote all of your disposable income to paying off your debt. A new job with higher pay will also result in more disposable income, something the court might choose to look at (or your creditors might ask it to look at) going forward.  

Talk to an Attorney

If you are considering a new job, talk to an experienced bankruptcy lawyer to find out whether it will affect your bankruptcy case (and, if so, how to minimize the consequences, if possible). The whole point of filing for bankruptcy is to get back on your financial feet, and turning down or putting off a great job offer won't help you in the long run. However, there may be easy ways to make sure your new job won't derail your bankruptcy (or cost you a portion of your new salary).  

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