There are costs associated with filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy. These include attorney’s fees, ordering a credit report, taking a credit counseling course, and paying the court’s filing fee. Some debtors can file an application with the court in order to avoid paying the court filing fee. However, the eligibility requirements for waiver of the filing fee ensure that most people will not be waived from this requirement. These include:
- Debtors household income must be less than 150% of the poverty level for the debtor’s household size.
- The debtor must not have sufficient income to allow him/her to pay the filing fee in installmenets.
- Waiver is only available to individuals. Businesses need not apply.
- Waiver of the filing fee is only availabe in Chapter 7 cases.
Whether or not the filing fee will be waived is at the bankruptcy judge’s discretion. However, if the debtor does not meet the 150% of povery level requirement, the judge may not grant the waiver, even though the debtor may meet the other requirements. The poverty level guidelines are published by the Department of Health and Human Services and can be found on their web site.
Meeting the requirements described above does not guarantee that waiver of the filing fee will be granted. The court will also consider what assets are available to the debtor at the time the case is filed, whether they have an expectation of an increase in income in the near future, and how much was paid to the debtor’s attorney. Many courts will not waiver the court filing fee when the debtor was able to pay their attorney’s fees.