How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?
Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

Ashburn, VA

How much does it cost to file bankruptcy?

$313 – $338 filing fee
$600 – $4,000 average attorney fees

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:

$313 – $338 filing fee

$600 – $4,000 average attorney fees

Get free estimates for your project or view our cost guide below:
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Jennifer Carlson
Written by
Jennifer Carlson
Edited by
Kristen Cramer
Fact-checked by
Tara Farmer

Average cost to file bankruptcy

Filing for bankruptcy costs $338 for Chapter 7 or $313 for a Chapter 13 declaration. These fees are set by the federal government and are the same regardless of your location. If you hire a lawyer to help with your case, you’ll pay $600 to $4,000 in bankruptcy attorney fees on average.

Average cost to file for bankruptcy
Fee type Average cost
Filing fees $313 – $338
Attorney fees $600 – $4,000

Get free estimates from bankruptcy lawyers near you.

Cost of filing for bankruptcy by type

The federal government sets the fees for filing for bankruptcy, and the fee depends on which type of bankruptcy you need. Chapter 7 can be cheaper in the long run because you only have to pay the value of some of your assets. However, Chapter 13 stays on your credit report for a shorter time.

Chapter 7 and 13 are the only bankruptcy types available to individuals, and both types discharge unsecured debt like personal loans, credit cards, and medical bills. Chapter 9 and 11 bankruptcies are for businesses or municipalities. Chapter 12 applies specifically to family farms or fishing businesses.

Bankruptcy filing fees by type
Bankruptcy type Filing fee*
Chapter 7 $338
Chapter 13 $313

*Not including ay attorney fees

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Filing fees for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are $338, not including attorney fees. This type of bankruptcy involves liquidating your assets to pay off as much of your debt as possible. You can file for Chapter 7 if you make less per month than your state’s median income or if your debt is greater than $9,075.

Thankfully, you don’t have to sell or give up everything you own to pay off your debts. The following assets are exempt from Chapter 7 filings:

  • Alimony or child support

  • Wages from after you file

  • Your pension

  • Any 401(k) or retirement plans, up to $1 million

  • Your vehicle, in some cases

  • Household goods, furniture, clothing, appliances, etc.

  • The equity in your house (if it’s your primary residence)

  • Social Security, unemployment, disability, or veterans’ benefits

Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Filing fees for Chapter 13 bankruptcy are $313, not including attorney fees. This type of bankruptcy is also called a “wage earner’s plan” and involves making a 3- to 5-year plan to pay off debts instead of liquidating your assets. Chapter 13 is essentially a court-ordered budget that can be hard to stick to.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is useful if you’re behind on mortgage payments and don’t want to lose your home. Chapter 7 can put a foreclosure on hold but won’t necessarily prevent it.

What impacts the cost of filing bankruptcy?

The following factors may influence the fees and costs to file for bankruptcy:

  • Attorney fees: If you need help filing your paperwork, lawyers charge $150 to $400 per hour on average. Bankruptcy attorneys charge a $600 to $4,000 flat rate, depending on the type. Chapter 13 cases tend to cost more than Chapter 7.

  • Credit counseling: All bankruptcy filers must go through credit counseling within 180 days before filing. This service costs anywhere from $0 to $50 per month and may help you avoid bankruptcy when possible.

  • Debt type: Some debts are non-dischargeable and will not go away even after bankruptcy. These include child support, alimony, taxes, and most student loans.

  • Location: Lawyers in highly populated areas like New York, California, or Washington D.C. typically charge more than in smaller towns or less-populated states.

  • Income: Your case may be more complex if you have multiple sources of income or are also filing for a business bankruptcy at the same time.

A legal gavel and bankruptcy filing forms
A legal gavel and bankruptcy filing forms

Bankruptcy FAQs

What is bankruptcy?

Bankruptcy is a legal process that helps people get out of debt, pay off their creditors, and get a fresh start financially. Filers must either sell some of their assets to pay off as much debt as possible or keep their assets and stick to a strict, court-ordered payment plan.

What happens when you file for bankruptcy?

When you file for bankruptcy, it will show up on your credit report. Chapter 7 bankruptcies stay on your credit report for up to 10 years. Chapter 13 bankruptcies stay for up to 7 years, but your score could still rise before then if you make car or house payments on time.

Your credit score will drop by 150 to 250 points, and your approval odds for a house, car, apartment, loan, or credit card will be lower.

Can I file bankruptcy without a lawyer?

You can file bankruptcy without a lawyer—also called filing pro se—but your case is more likely to go well with one. Lawyers have the experience necessary to file your paperwork quickly and accurately. They can also help you decide which type of bankruptcy is best for you or help avoid it altogether.

When would I need a bankruptcy lawyer?

People get in over their heads with debt and file for bankruptcy for many different reasons. This could include:

  • Divorce

  • Medical bills

  • Credit card debt

  • Unexpected emergencies

  • Long-term unemployment

How long do bankruptcy cases take?

Get free estimates from bankruptcy lawyers near you.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases normally take about 4 to 6 months, as long as there are no major delays or mistakes in the paperwork. Selling property to pay off debt can sometimes delay cases. Chapter 13 cases take 3 to 5 years because they are contingent upon the court-ordered payment plan.

How to choose a bankruptcy lawyer

If you need help starting the bankruptcy process, start by searching our list of bankruptcy lawyers and then follow these steps:

  • Compare 3+ estimates from different lawyers who specialize in bankruptcy cases.

  • Read reviews on Lawful and Google.

  • Choose an experienced lawyer with a good reputation.

  • Verify they passed the bar and can represent you in court.

  • Choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable and at ease.

  • Get a written contract before they begin any casework.

Questions to ask a bankruptcy lawyer

When looking for a bankruptcy lawyer, ask the following questions:

  • How long have you been practicing law?

  • When did you pass the bar?

  • How much experience do you have filing for bankruptcy on behalf of clients?

  • Do you give free consultations?

  • Can you take on new clients at this time?

  • Do you charge by the hour or charge a flat rate?

  • Will you give me a contract in writing?

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