When you file for bankruptcy, you need to pay a filing fee to the court.

That’s different from any legal fees you may have to pay to a lawyer, or fees you may pay to someone to get the bankruptcy papers typed up neatly.

The filing fee goes directly to the court system.

Here’s what you need to know.

Bankruptcy Court Filing Fees As Of June 1, 2014

The follow are the filing fees payable to the bankruptcy court when a case is filed:

  • Chapter 7: $335 [$245 filing fee + $75 administrative fee + $15 trustee surcharge]
  • Chapter 9: $1,717 [$1167 filing fee + $550 administrative fee]
  • Chapter 11: $1,717 [$1167 filing fee + $550 administrative fee]
  • Chapter 12: $275 [$200 filing fee + $75 administrative fee]
  • Chapter 13: $310 [$235 filing fee + $75 administrative fee]
  • Chapter 15: $1,717 [$1167 filing fee + $550 administrative fee]

Your lawyer can pay the filing fee using a check, money order, cash or credit card. If you’re filing for bankruptcy on your own, you can pay in cash or money order only.

If You Need An Installment Plan For Your Filing Fees

If you can’t afford to pay the full fee at the time of filing your bankruptcy case, you may apply to pay the fee  in installments.

In order to do so, you must complete a form and submit it when you file your case. Your application must include the dates you intend to pay, and the amounts of, each installment.

You’ll have to appear at a hearing in front of the bankruptcy judge, at which time it will either be approved or denied. If approved, you can generally pay your filing fee over a 4-6 month period of time. If you don’t make your payments on time, your bankruptcy case may be dismissed.

Be prepared, however, for the possibility that the application to pay the filing fee in installments is denied. If that happens, you’ll need to pay the full filing fee immediately or risk having your case kicked out of court.

Click here for the official form to pay the filing fee in installments.

Waivers Of Bankruptcy Court Filing Fees

If your finances are so tight that you can’t afford to pay the filing fees even in installments, you may request a waiver of the filing fee. You must complete the form requesting the waiver and file it when you file your bankruptcy case.

By law, the bankruptcy court judge may waive the fee only if your income is less than 150 percent of the official poverty line applicable to your family size and you are unable to pay the fee in  installments. You may obtain information about the poverty guidelines by clicking this link.

For a family of 4 people, you can make $35,775 and potentially get the filing fee waiver.

Click here for the official form for waiver of the Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee.

The Courthouse Doors Remain Open

As you can see, the bankruptcy court system is serious about your access to the system.

No matter your financial situation, there’s a way to get you in the courthouse door.

All you need to do is take the step inside.