Now that you have decided to file bankruptcy, the next thing you want to know is how much it will cost. The fees are very different for Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. In most cases, the attorney fees that you must pay up front are much cheaper in the Chapter 7 than the Chapter 13. However, you will usually pay more overall in a Chapter 13 then Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Court filing fees for filing bankruptcy are the same in every state. The filing fee for Chapter 7 are $335.00 and must be paid to the court when you file your case. In some cases, you can request that the court waive these court costs so that you don’t have to pay them at all. To get your filing fees waived you must show the court that you are an individual, filing Chapter 7, who is unable to pay the court costs in 120 days, AND your income is 150% of the poverty line. There is a chart issued by the U.S. Courts which lists the amount of income you can earn based on the size of your household. Your local bankruptcy attorney should be able to help you determine whether or not your court costs can be waived.
Court costs for Chapter 13 are $310.00. Unlike Chapter 7, you cannot waive court costs, but you can pay them in one of two ways. First, you can pay the full amount when you file your case. The second, and most common way, is for the court costs to be included in your repayment plan so that you are not required to pay any court costs up front. Bankruptcy law requires that the court costs be paid within 120 days of the filing of your case or your case will be dismissed. If at some point you convert (or change) your case from Chapter 13 to Chapter 7, there is an additional $25.00 court fee for conversion.
Other costs that must be paid are credit counseling course fees. There are two courses which you must take to complete the course requirements for both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. There is a credit counseling course you must take before you file your case. There is a financial management course which you must take after you file and before your meeting of creditors. Both are online courses, but you can take them over the phone if you do not have internet access. The costs vary depending on which credit counseling service you use and whether you take them over the phone or online Generally the average costs for these courses are $40 to $100 total for both courses. Some services charge different rates for individuals and couples so check with your bankruptcy attorney for the prices of the different non-profit course providers in your area.
The largest cost in filing a bankruptcy is the attorney fee. Attorneys usually charge a flat fee for filing a bankruptcy. This means that there is a set rate for the legal services provided by the attorney for filing and working your bankruptcy case. Some bankruptcy lawyers may charge you extra if you have to go to trial on any issues, but almost all attorneys just consider the trial part of your flat fee. First appointments are usually free and that is when the attorney will discuss their fee structure with you.
Attorney fees for Chapter 7 must be paid in full before filing. Most fees are based on the complexity of the case. Some issues which may increase your fee are if you are in business for yourself, if you have problems with the Means Test, or you have a lot of unexempt assets. If your case is a simple no asset Chapter 7, the fees generally run from $800 to $3,500 depending on attorneys in your State. Many attorneys will allow you to make installments payments on attorney fees. However, your case will not be filed until all of the fees are paid in full.
Attorney fees for Chapter 13 cases are set by the bankruptcy court in your district. They are flat fees and are called “no look fees.” Just like court costs, attorney fees are also put into your repayment plan, so you don’t have to pay any attorney fees up front. These fees vary from $3,500 to $4,500 but they are spread out over the life of the plan (thirty-six to sixty months).