U.S. Bankruptcy Courts Increase Cost of Going Broke

October 24, 2011

The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts have increased the fee for filing bankruptcy by $7. Effective November 1, 2011, the filing fee for Chapter 7 will increase from $299 to $306; the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee will increase from $274 to $281; and the Chapter 11 filing fee will increase from $1,039 to $1,046. As part of the judiciary branch of federal government of the United States, this filing fee increase effects each one of the 90 bankruptcy districts across the country.

Filing fees are generally paid to the bankruptcy court at the time the case is filed. The filing fee may be waived under extreme circumstances, and may be paid in installments. A waiver or installment agreement must be approved by the bankruptcy court.

In addition to the basic filing fee increases, the Judicial Conference of the United States increased other fees that may apply to certain bankruptcy cases:

Certification: Formerly $9, now $11;
Exemplification: Formerly $18, now $21;
Audio Recording: Formerly $26, now $30;
Amended Bankruptcy Schedules: Formerly $26, now $30;
Record Search: Formerly $26, now $30;
Adversary Proceeding Fee: Formerly $250, now $293;
Document Filing/Indexing: Formerly $39, now $46;
Record Retrieval Fee: Formerly $45, now $53;
Returned Check Fee: Formerly $45, now $53;
Notice of Appeal Fee: Formerly $250, now $293; and
Lift/Stay Fee: Formerly $150, now $176.

Be sure to consult with your attorney to determine whether any of these additional fees apply to your individual bankruptcy case.

Filing fees are one of four different fees that a debtor must pay during the bankruptcy process. The other fees are: a credit counseling fee, paid before filing bankruptcy and is typically less than $50; attorney fees, which largely depend upon the bankruptcy chapter and the complexity of the case; and a personal financial management fee, paid after filing and is typically less than $50. The credit counseling and personal financial management requirements were instituted by Congress in 2005 as part of widespread changes to the Bankruptcy Code. Prior to the 2005 changes, the Chapter 7 filing fee was $209.

Despite the fee increase, bankruptcy remains an effective means to permanently rid yourself of burdensome debt. Many people are able to discharge all of their debts through bankruptcy. Others discharge unsecured debts, like medical bills and credit cards, while keeping their homes and vehicles. If you need debt relief, discuss your situation with an experienced attorney and learn how the federal bankruptcy laws can help.

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