Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t free. You may be able to go it alone, but the likelihood of successfully completing a Chapter 7 on your own is lower compared to having a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer is expensive, but it’s usually worth it if you want your Chapter 7 bankruptcy successfully discharged.
How Hiring a Lawyer Helps
When it comes to filing a Chapter 7, you have two options: file bankruptcy on your own (pro se), or have an attorney file for you. It’s cheaper to file pro se, but the success rate for those filing pro se is lower compared to attorney-filed cases, as you run the risk of having your Chapter 7 bankruptcy being dismissed since you aren’t getting legal assistance.
Filing on your own costs a few hundred dollars, and adding a lawyer to the mix increases the cost, although by how much depends on your lawyer’s fees. Most lawyers charge a flat (fixed) rate, but the fee can vary based on factors such as the type of bankruptcy you’re filing, the market where they practice, and how complicated your financial situation is.
Costs to File a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
According to Credit Karma, the cost of hiring a bankruptcy attorney for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy ranges from $500 to $3,500. You must pay the attorney fee before you file to avoid it being included in the discharged debt in a Chapter 7. When the court hears your case, you have to pay for that, as well.
Typical fees for this include:
- Filing fee – Typically $335 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to Credit Karma.
- Credit counseling fee – You must go through credit counseling, which you’re also charged for. In some cases, you may have the fee waived, although you can usually expect to pay around $50, according the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- Debtor education course – To get a Chapter 7 discharged, you need to complete a debtor education course, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $100, according to the FTC. Just like credit counseling, it’s possible to get the fee waived if you can’t afford it.
Getting Bankruptcy Help for Free
Did you know that you can get advice and help for free before you file for Chapter 7? Before you jump the gun and throw what little money you have on filing for bankruptcy, get some free advice. Most lawyers offer free consultations, and can give you advice on how to pay for court costs and attorney fees.
In addition to free consultations, you could get help from a pro bono (free) lawyer, borrow money to pay for the fees from family or friends, or stop paying unsecured debts that would get wiped out during the bankruptcy, anyway. Make sure you consider all the options available, and get as much advice and free help as you can before you file.
The Bottom Line
Filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy isn’t cheap, and if you have little or no money, you may be wondering if you can afford to even complete the process. Luckily, the process is short, and only lasts four to six months, although being able to keep your property such as a house or car isn’t always possible.
You may lose your vehicle during a Chapter 7, but once the process is over you can take steps toward rebuilding your credit with a bad credit auto loan. Here at The Car Connection, we work with a nationwide network of special finance dealers that have the lending resources available to help even after you've been through bankruptcy. Don't hesitate to use our help – fill out our free, no-obligation car loan request form to get started right now!