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The Cost of Filing Bankruptcy

Unfortunately, it is expensive to file bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is a legal proceeding with complicated rules and paperwork. You may want to get professional legal help, especially if you hope to use bankruptcy to prevent foreclosure or repossession. Most bankruptcy attorneys provide a free consultation to help you decide whether bankruptcy is the right choice. If the attorney takes the case, the attorney will expect to be paid, unless he or she works for a nonprofit legal services office or is doing the bankruptcy on a pro bono basis.

You also have to pay the court a bankruptcy filing fee—$313 for chapter 13 or $338 for chapter 7. The fee can be paid in four installments over 120 days (or 180 days with court permission). You can also ask the court to waive the filing fee in a chapter 7 case if your household income is less than 150% of the official poverty guidelines (for 2020, $25,860 for a family of two or $39,300 for a family of four). No waiver is allowed in a chapter 13 case.

In a chapter 13 case, you pay your debts over time, and you usually have to pay the trustee handling your payments a 10% commission on each payment. While this can add up, you will be paying far lower interest on your debts in a chapter 13 plan than if you had not filed bankruptcy. Even more significantly in a chapter 13 plan, you may only have to repay a small percentage of what you owe on most of your unsecured debts.