How much is it to file a Chapter 7 or a Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

At the time of this writing, the filing fees for Chapter 7 bankruptcy are $306.  The filing fees for Chapter 13 bankruptcy are $281.  Each law firm differs on how much they require down as well as how much they require in terms of a total fee to file a type of bankruptcy.  In my office, we typically start with a $100 down payment to hire the firm.  It is from that point that the debtor will make payments of at least $100 every two weeks until their case is paid in full.  The typical timeframe to file the case is once the fees are paid in full and once all of the prefiling bankruptcy requirements are satisfied.

There are some cases where you want to file the bankruptcy prior to be paid in full.  An example of such a case would be if a client is being garnished and they are losing 15% of their wages every week and they don’t have the ability to pay your fee and they don’t have the ability to pay their normal living expenses because they are losing 15% of their income.  In those cases, we might engage in a post-filing retainer agreement whereby we take a certain dollar amount down to file the case.  We do a certain amount of work prior to filing and then the debtor and the law firm enter into a contract whereby the law firm is going to perform services after the case is filed and the debtor is going to provide payment to the law firm after the case is filed.  Without that post-petition retainer agreement, the attorneys’ fees would be discharged in the original filing.

So there are cases that could be filed prior to be paid in full, however there must be a circumstance which warrants such a filing.  In most cases, attorneys fees must be paid in full prior to the case being filed.