If you cannot afford to pay the bankruptcy filing fee at one time (it is a whopping $306 as of 2012 for a Chapter 7!), you can file an application to pay the fee in installments over time. There is also an option to apply to waive the entire filing fee. However, this option is only available to individuals with very low income which is below 150% of the poverty line.
The purpose of the application to pay the filing fee in installments serves as a way to allow people that do not meet the requirement of a fee waiver (income less than 150% of the poverty line) due to excess income, but do not have sufficient income to pay a large filing fee at one time. This allows access to the bankruptcy system for even those with few resources.
The United States Courts' website contains a form application that you can use to request to pay the filing fee in installments. However, you should check your bankruptcy court's website or the bankruptcy clerk's office to determine if there is a specific local form you should use and/or that would be preferable.
You should complete the application to pay the filing fee in installments before you file for bankruptcy. Otherwise the bankruptcy court clerk will likely refuse to accept your petition for filing. Although the process may vary somewhat from court to court, the bankruptcy judge must decide whether to approve your application. This may require you to appear before the judge.
Completing the Application
Please note that these instructions refer to completing the application available on the United States Courts' website.
At the top of the application, write your full name after "In re." On the right side of the page, write in your case number, if you have one.
Question 1 requires that you indicate the amount of the filing fee which you wish to pay over time. If you are filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you would enter $306 in the space.
Questions 2 and 3 require that you certify that you cannot pay the filing fee in full, and that you will not pay any additional money to an attorney or other person in connection with your bankruptcy case.
Question 4 is your requested payment plan. According to the federal bankruptcy rules, you can request a maximum of four payments, with the final payment falling no later than 120 days after you file your bankruptcy case. However, note that the court may extend the time to pay an installment, only if the last installment is not paid later than 180 days after you file the bankruptcy case. You must have cause for this request. Within these guidelines, establish a payment plan and enter the numbers and date under this question.
For example, for a filing fee of $306, you could create a payment plan consisting of four payments of $76.50. Remember not to date the last payment later than 120 days after you file the bankruptcy case!
Sign your name and write down the date below this question. If you have any attorney, the attorney must also sign the application. File the application along with your bankruptcy petition at the bankruptcy court clerk's office.
This article is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this article does not create an attorney-client relationship between the author of this article and the user or browser.