When you file for bankruptcy, you must pay a filing fee, as well as costs associated with credit and debt counseling. If you can’t afford the filing fee, you might qualify for a fee waiver or to pay in installments.
In this article, you’ll find a rundown of what you must pay, when you must pay it, and how to qualify for a fee waiver or installment payments.
Effective December 1, 2016, the total fees you must pay to file a bankruptcy petition are:
The bankruptcy court increases these fees from time to time. You can find the most up-to-date fees on the website of the U.S. Courts at www.uscourts.gov.
Normally, the filing fee is due when you file your petition. However, there are two exceptions: you can ask the court if you can pay the fee in installments or you can request that the court waive the fee entirely.
To ask the court to allow you to pay your filing fee in installments, you file Form 103A Application for Individuals to Pay the Filing Fee in Installments. On the form, you must state that you cannot pay the fee except in installments and then propose a schedule for payment of the entire fee. Your proposed payment schedule cannot have more than four payments, and the final installment cannot be made later than 120 days after filing the petition.
If the court waives the fee, you don’t have to pay it. In order to qualify for a fee waiver, you:
You’ll request a fee waiver by completing and filing Form 103B Application to Have the Chapter 7 Filing Fee Waived. In addition, you might have to appear in court so the judge can ask you questions; however, in many cases, the judge will approve the application without requiring an appearance.
Because you must have enough money to fund a repayment plan for three to five years in Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in practice, Chapter 13 filers don’t qualify for fee waivers or installment payments. So you should plan to pay the fee when you file the case.
When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you must get credit counseling from an approved provider within six months before your filing. You must also take a debtor education course after filing your case as a condition of receiving your bankruptcy discharge (the order that wipes out qualifying debt).
Most approved credit counseling providers charge between $15 and $30 for the required counseling. Some don’t charge anything. The law requires the agencies to provide counseling without regard to your ability to pay, so if you can’t afford the counseling, let the agency know about this requirement.
The debtor education courses also cost about $35. If you can’t afford the amount charged, you can ask that the provider to waive the fee or that you be allowed to pay a lesser amount.