I understand that you're in tough financial trouble. But you should move heaven and earth to scrape up the fees to hire a bankruptcy attorney. The good news is that lots of well qualified attorneys will give you an initial consultation at no charge. The bad news is we're very valuable and we cost a good buck. In my area a Chapter 7 bankruptcy could cost $599 to $900.00 for a single person, in addition to the counseling fees and court costs of $299.00. Your area may have a different range of prices.
We are costly, but we pay for ourselves by doing the job right and preserving your assets. We save our clients time and assets. If you need a bankruptcy, you need a professional to file it. Sometimes an attorney will see a way to avoid a bankruptcy. That makes that no charge consultation well worth your time and trouble. Go see a bankruptcy attorney. Good luck.
Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The total filing fees for Chapter 7 are currently $299. In addition you have to get financial counseling before you file and before you receive a discharge; these run $30-$50 each.
You can ask to pay the filing fee in four installments. If you do not have an attorney, you can also ask to have the filing fee waived.
You can also ask the financial counseling agency to discount or waive its fee.
You should consult a local bankruptcy attorney, even if you do not have the attorney completely handle your case. You may have state exemptions that are different from the federal ones, and this may affect your decision regarding when to file. As well, getting all the bankruptcy protection to which you are entitled versus doing it yourself and making a mistake may more than offset the attorney's fee.
There is a lot of easy to understand information available; most attorneys should be willing to at least email you information without charge.
Charles and Wayne are completely correct. I have recently thought about it another way. When I was about 17 or so, my car needed brakes. I didn't have much money, so I thought I could read a book and do it myself. I bought all the parts, talked to friends that were mechanics and started to do the job. When I was done, I had some pieces left over. Not only did I waste a whole Saturday afternoon, but I had to call a friend and have him laugh at me. When he was done laughing, I still had to pay. More importantly, I was supposed to "bleed" the brakes to get air out or something. The only thing bloody were my hands!
Moral of the story: Hire an expert for things that require experts and make sure that the expert you hire is an expert in what you need him for! You would not go to a foot doctor and let him pull a tooth. You would not let your dentist perform a heart operation. You wouldn't call a plumber if your electricity needed to be fixed! Yet every day people take legal and financial advice from non-experts!