Will the court pay for my bankruptcy filing fee?

A concern of most clients, and mine too, is the filing fee for a bankruptcy. I remember when the filing fee was $45.00 for a chapter 7.   Now, it is almost five times that figure at $306 for a chapter 7 filing and $281 for a chapter 13. Frankly, I think that is somewhat unreasonable, but just my opinion.   Unfortunately, if you are broke, you cannot file for bankruptcy, unless you are eligible for a fee waiver. You are either broke or bankrupt, hopefully, you are just bankrupt and not completely broke.

Anyway, as for the law, under Section 1930(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code, a debtor whose income is less than 150% of the federal poverty level may ask the bankruptcy court to waive the filing fees in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.

You can find the federal poverty guidelines for 2011 by following this link:


The poverty level for those living in the contiguous 48 states is currently $10,890. It is a bit higher in Alaska and Hawaii. So, if your annual income is less than roughly $15,000, the court will allow you to waive the filing fee for bankruptcy which is currently $306 for a chapter 7. The other option is to pay the filing fee in installments. You can use that method whether you file a chapter 13 or 7. My preference and recommendation is that you do not pay the filing fee in installments because honestly, it is just another thing to forget to do. Especially in a chapter 13 filing where you have to start making payments to the chapter 13 trustee within 30 days of filing your case, paying the filing fee in installments is one of those things that if you miss making the payments, there is a good chance your case will be dismissed. Of course, sometimes it is hard to raise $306 for a quick filing if you are being garnished or your home is in foreclosure.

In those cases, sure, you can take advantage of the installment method to pay your filing fee and it might be a good idea to take advantage of that method. When a case if filed requesting filing fee installments, you select the method of payment.

The only rule appears to be that you have to pay all installments within 120 days of filing. We usually suggest to clients that they pay something when the case is filed, even if it is $50.00. We are here to help you so give us a call at 303-830-3545 in metro Denver.  We can also meet you at one of our branch offices throughout the state if you do not live in metro Denver.