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How Much Does It Cost To File Bankruptcy?

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In a Nutshell

It can cost $400-$3,000 to file for bankruptcy, especially if you hire a bankruptcy lawyer. Bankruptcy costs include court filing fees, credit counseling course fees, and, if you hire a bankruptcy lawyer, attorney fees. The total cost will largely depend on your financial situation, the complexity of your case, and whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Written by Attorney Jenni Klock MorelLegally reviewed by Attorney Andrea Wimmer
Updated April 15, 2024


Infographic showing common bankruptcy costs.

How Much Does Bankruptcy Cost?

Bankruptcy costs can range from $400-$3,000 or more. There’s not one answer for “How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?” The total cost will largely depend on your financial situation, the complexity of your case, the type of bankruptcy you file, and if you choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney.

Bankruptcy costs may include:

  • Court filing fees: $338 for Chapter 7 (may be waived for eligible filers) or $313 for Chapter 13 

  • Credit counseling course fees (may be waived for eligible filers)

  • Miscellaneous fees (printing, travel, etc)

  • Attorney fees  (if you hire a bankruptcy lawyer)

What Are the Bankruptcy Court Filing Fees?

Your court filing fee depends on the type of bankruptcy you are filling. There are six types of bankruptcy you can file: Chapter 7, 9, 11,12, 13, and 15. We will be focusing on two most common types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. 

What Is the Fee To File Chapter 7?

The bankruptcy court filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338. It’s due when the bankruptcy petition is filed, unless the court grants an exception to this rule. If you need help paying your filing fee you request to pay the court filing fee in installments or ask for a fee waiver.

How To Pay Your Court Filing Fee in Installments

You can request to pay the filing fee in installments to the Bankruptcy Court. This allows you to immediately receive bankruptcy protection (via the automatic stay), even if you can’t pay the full filing fee upfront. This can be particularly helpful for those who are at risk for wage garnishment or foreclosure.  

If you want to pay your filing fee in installments, fill out the installment application and submit it to the court. You’ll also want to find out how much your bankruptcy district charges as a down payment. The down payment counts towards the total fee and each bankruptcy district sets its own minimum. You can find this information online or ask your local bankruptcy court clerk.

It’s important to note that all installment payments must be paid within 120 days after bankruptcy filing.

How To Get a Fee Waiver 

To be eligible to apply for a fee waiver your income must fall below 150% of the poverty line for your state and household size. However, being eligible to apply for a fee waiver doesn't mean that you will automatically get it. If the Bankruptcy Court denies your fee waiver, it will typically give you the chance to pay the filing fee in installments instead.

You can only apply for a fee waiver for Chapter 7 filings. Fee waivers are not available in Chapter 13 cases.

Chapter 13 Court Filing Fee

The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee is $313. Chapter 13 cases require the filer to have disposable income to make monthly plan payments to the trustee. No fee waivers are available in Chapter 13 cases. That’s because, if you can’t pay the filing fee, the bankruptcy judge will find it hard to believe that you can make your Chapter 13 repayment plan in good faith. That said, you can apply to pay your filing fee in installments.

How Much Do Credit Counseling Courses Cost?

Everyone who files for bankruptcy must take two educational courses:

  • A credit counseling course before filing

  • A debtor education course after filing

The courses are the same for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases. Both courses can be completed online and generally are inexpensive and not too time-consuming.

The costs of either course cannot be more than $50 unless the provider gets a special exemption from theU.S. Trustee's Office. Approved credit counseling agencies are required to operate as nonprofit entities, so the cost tends to be slightly lower for the first course than the second course. 

Generally speaking, you can expect to pay less than $25 for the credit counseling fee and less than $50 to complete debtor education. However, If your income is less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines, you can ask the course provider to waive the fee

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What Other Bankruptcy Costs Should I Account For?

There are a few other costs that arise when filing bankruptcy, though they’re typically in the form of printing costs or travel expenses. 

Here ares some of the additional costs people encounter when filing bankruptcy:

  • The cost of printing paperwork (which could be 60+ pages)

  • The cost of mailing your documents to the court (or bankruptcy trustee)

  • Amendment filing fees (if applicable) 

  • Travel fees (if you have to travel to meet your creditor)

  • Possible lost wages for time off work for any reason related to your case

How Much Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Charge?

If you choose to hire a bankruptcy lawyer, attorney fees will be included in the total cost of filing bankruptcy. Attorney fees can range anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 for Chapter 7 cases. Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases tend to be more complicated and take longer since they require a 3–5 year repayment plan, so lawyers often charge more for these cases.

No matter your situation, it may be beneficial to meet with a bankruptcy lawyer for a free consultation. An attorney can help you navigate the bankruptcy process, understand the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, and decide what type of legal help is best for you.

Our free online tool helps filers navigate the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process, which could potentially save you $1,000-$2,000 in attorney fees. See if you’re eligible

Chapter 7 Flat Fees vs. Hourly Fees

Most attorneys handle Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases on a flat fee. This means that they charge a set amount up-front for the legal services involved in preparing and filing a Chapter 7 case. Flat fees for filing bankruptcy can vary greatly depending on the complexity of your case. 

The alternative to charging a flat fee is charging an hourly fee. The hourly rate should also be included in a written agreement between the attorney and client. It's possible, but rare, for a bankruptcy law firm to bill hourly attorney fees for filing a Chapter 7 consumer bankruptcy. 

Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Have Payment Plans?

Just as the bankruptcy court sometimes allows installment payments for the filing fee, most bankruptcy attorneys allow installment payments for the attorney fees. 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fees typically have to be paid in full before the attorney files your case. This is because of the automatic stay, which stops your creditors from attempting to collect on a debt you owe them (usually unsecured debt.)

How Much Do Bankruptcy Attorneys Charge for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

Attorney fees for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy tend to be more expensive than attorney fees for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case. This is because there's a much greater workload associated with filing a Chapter 13 case and, unlike Chapter 7 bankruptcies (which usually take about four months), Chapter 13 cases are open for three to five years. 

How Are Chapter 13 Attorney Fees Paid?

It isn't necessary to pay all of the attorney feesupfront in a Chapter 13 case. Usually, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy lawyer will require a portion of the attorney fees be paid before filing the case. The remaining attorney fees then  will get paid through the Chapter 13 repayment plan. 

Chapter 13 Flat Fees vs. Hourly Fees

A lot of attorneys use the flat fee system in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases. Whether flat fee or hourly, all attorney fees paid through the Chapter 13 plan are subject to court approval. 

Outstanding attorney fees at the time of filing are not paid in addition to the plan payment, they're part of the plan payment. Lawyers can ask for priority to receive full payment before certain other creditors. 

Can I File Bankruptcy for Free?

Ourfree web app helps filers prepare their Chapter 7 bankruptcy forms without the help of an attorney. Our free app also provides a number of free resources and information about how to navigate the Chapter 7 bankruptcy process. 

Additional Bankruptcy Resources:



Written By:

Attorney Jenni Klock Morel

LinkedIn

Jenni Klock Morel is a writer, nonprofit leader, and Social Justice Law Scholar. For years she practiced consumer bankruptcy law exclusively as a debtor's attorney, helping individuals and families file for Chapter 7 or 13 bankruptcy protection. Jenni left the practice of law to... read more about Attorney Jenni Klock Morel

Attorney Andrea Wimmer

TwitterLinkedIn

Andrea practiced exclusively as a bankruptcy attorney in consumer Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team as Managing Editor. While in private practice, Andrea handled... read more about Attorney Andrea Wimmer

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