How Much Does it Cost to File Bankruptcy?

This is probably the most commonly asked question, and yet it's one of the hardest. Lawyers, including myself, hate to give straight answers to this question. The short answer is, it depends on you.  A good lawyer will want to know about your situation before quoting you a fee.  I like to set up a free consultation with clients, either in person or over the phone.  Once I've talked with you for an hour or so, I'll be more comfortable telling you what your bankruptcy costs.  If I gave you a quote before meeting you, there's a risk I'd charge you too much (thinking that your situation is more complicated than it really is). There's also a risk that I would overlook some difficulties, and charge too little.

Very generally speaking, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will cost somewhere between $1,500 and $2,500.  These costs include the court's filing fee of $306.  A Chapter 13 bankruptcy will usually range from $2,000 to $4,000, again including the filing fee of $281.  Chapter 7 fees must be paid before your case is filed; most of your Chapter 13 fees can be paid over 3-5 years.

Why is there such a variation in cost? Your bankruptcy might be more expensive if you own your own business, if you have complicated tax issues, or if your lawyer thinks there will be problems with your case.  For example, if I see there is a risk that you might not be eligible for Chapter 7, I will adjust my fee to account for the time I'll need to devote to fighting this issue in court.

You wouldn't (or shouldn't) trust a contractor that quoted you a price for remodeling your kitchen without ever setting foot in your house.  You also should be wary of an attorney who quotes you a fee without ever meeting you.