ALERT: As part of a multi-year court project to modernize the Official Bankruptcy Forms and make them more consumer-friendly, the Advisory Committee on Bankruptcy Rules has recently revised most of the consumer bankruptcy forms (several had already been revised in 2013 and 2014). The changes became effective on December 1, 2015. The revisions involved reformatting, renaming, and renumbering the forms, and in a few instances, combining two forms into one. You can find the new forms here: www.uscourts.gov/forms/bankruptcy-forms. We are in the process of revising all of our articles to comport with the new forms. Check back soon.
When you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you may be able to pay the filing fee in four installments instead of all at once. In order to do this, you must submit an application to the court, called the Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments (Form 3A). If the court approves the application, it will sign an order allowing you to pay the fee in installments.
(To learn about the other forms you must file in bankruptcy, see Completing the Bankruptcy Forms.)
You can find the most recent version of the Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments on the U.S. Court’s website at www.uscourts.gov. To learn more about getting the official and other forms, see The Bankruptcy Forms: Getting Started.
Currently, the filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $335. The fee for Chapter 13 bankruptcy is $310. If you cannot pay the entire filing fee at once, you may ask the court to pay the fee in up to four installments. If the court lets you do this, you must complete the installment payments within 120 days after you file the petition, or within 180 days if you get an additional extension of time to pay.
When you complete the Application, you must list the dates you intend to pay, and the amounts of, each installment. The bankruptcy judge may require that you appear at a hearing on the matter.
If the court approves your application, it will sign an order (this is the second page of Form 3A). Make sure you make the payments according to the schedule. If you don’t, the court may dismiss your case.
If the court denies your application to pay the fee in installments, you’ll have to pay the full fee up front – although the court usually gives you a little time to come up with the money.
You cannot pay your attorney (or anyone else providing services in your case) any more fees until you have paid the full filing fee to the court. As a practical matter, this means that most Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 debtors with attorneys will have to pay the filing free up front.
This article provides general information only. There are many legal issues involved and important decisions to be made when filing for bankruptcy. You must understand the entire bankruptcy process, learn about the applicable federal and state laws, and determine how those laws will affect your particular situation before you complete the bankruptcy forms. If you want to file bankruptcy without a lawyer, use a good do-it-yourself book like Nolo's How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to ensure you make well informed decisions about your bankruptcy case.