Everyone approaching the process of filing for bankruptcy has questions about what it might cost and how to pay for a bankruptcy filing. There are filing fees and potentially required courses that you are responsible for paying the fees for before you even initiate your bankruptcy proceedings.
All bankruptcy filers have to pay a filing fee. For a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, this fee is $310, whereas for a Chapter 7 case this is $335. The bankruptcy trustee may have his or her own fee as well in addition. You may ask the court, in certain situations to pay the filing fee in installments, so long as you could show that it would otherwise be a financial hardship for you to be able to pay this in one lump sum. In this case you can pay for a bankruptcy filing with increments.
You will not have to pay an extra fee if you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and later convert to Chapter 13. This is because you may not pass the means test or be eligible to file for Chapter 7 and you will need to switch to Chapter 13. If you file under Chapter 13 bankruptcy to start, however, and later decide to file for Chapter 7 because you are unable to keep up with the payments on your plan, you may need to pay a conversion fee.
Aside from the filing fees associated directly with petitioning the court for bankruptcy, you may also be required to complete credit counseling and a financial management course. This can cost up to $100, depending on your individual location. In addition, you may also need to extend your outreach to an attorney. Filing pro se or without the assistance of a lawyer could put you at risk of making mistakes in your case. The success rate for a case may depend on your ability to retain an experienced attorney. Consulting with a bankruptcy attorney well in advance of filing can give you a good overview of the services they can provide, how they can help you over the duration of your case and the fees you may charge.
Filing under Chapter 7 may require that you will need to pay an attorney up front. The average nationwide attorney fee for a lawyer in a Chapter 7 case is $1250, but of course, this can depend significantly on the lawyer’s firm, location and the complexity of your case. You may be able to pay less if you have relatively few assets. In Chapter 13, you will need to work directly with a trustee in order to establish your repayment plan to pay back as much as possible of your debts over a three to five-year period. The average for Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases around the country is $3000 for an attorney’s fee, but of course, this can vary significantly.
Attorneys in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases will usually charge a fee up front, others may want a larger down payment and will charge only the filing fee and you may be eligible to pay your attorney back through your Chapter 13 repayment plan. In the event that there are more complicated issues in your case, your attorney fees can increase. For example, if a trustee contests some of the property you have outlined in your case and your attorney has to step in to represent you in this, he or she may charge more. Filing for bankruptcy is a complicated process and one that can allow you to move into a more successful financial future and it is strongly recommended that you complete all of your research up front.