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What is the average cost for filing for personal bankruptcy?

Bradley Beach, NJ |

My attorney hasn't filed me yet and there is a lien on my bank account for two months. i'm afraid I'll loose my money. he said he called the law firm informing them of his representing me, but I called them and they said he hasn't ever called and they would have asked for a cover letter from him regardless. He has been putting me off, lying to me and ignoring my phone calls. I asked him to either file it or return my file and funds I've given him, $1,100.00. Still no response. This has been four years since i've given him 800 and recently 300 filing fee. What should I do?

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Attorney answers 5


You should put your request in writing and if he does not respond, you can file a report with the states discipline commission. Cost of Chapter 7 varies from each states, to get an average you have to call around.


The costs of a consumer bankruptcy case include the attorney fees, the Court's filing fees and the fees necessary to obtain the credit counseling certificate necessary before you may file your case and the debtor's education certificate that must be obtained after the case is filed but before it is completed. The court's filing fees are set, $306.00 for a Chapter 7 case and $281.00 for a Chapter 13 case. The credit counseling certificate fee and the debtor's education course fee vary from about $10.00 on up to about $50.00. The attorney fees are probably what you are most focused upon. The fees may certainly vary depending upon the complexity of your case. In addition, probably in no other situation is the old adage "you get what you pay for" more true than in retaining legal counsel. You truly do get what you pay for. An experienced bankruptcy attorney whose practice focus is bankruptcy is clearly going to charge higher fees for all of that experience than a general practitioner who files a few bankruptcy cases every year, and the results are likely to be quite different. A qualified bankruptcy attorney will be accustomed to reviewing and determining the possibility of the discharge of taxes you may owe the State or Federal Government, the method and procedure and subtle nuances in putting forth a loss mitigation plan to try and get you a mortgage modification during your bankruptcy case, etc. Most attorneys who do not focus their practice on bankruptcy may be poorly versed or wholly unfamiliar with these issues. Interview a few bankruptcy attorneys, most will give you a short, fee consultation. You may find that you are much more comfortable with one attorney than the others, chose him/her, as your dealing with your financial future, do not skimp on getting your fresh start. The best legal counsel is money well spent. You wouldn't want to retain the cheapest brain surgeon if you needed brain surgery, you want the best. Same with your legal counsel.
With regard to your comment that it's been four years since you retained your attorney for a bankruptcy case. Four years to get a bankruptcy case filed is egregious, unless you have had something to do with the delay. Make an appointment and go to his office and discuss the holdup. It may be he is not sure how to proceed with your particular case's circumstances. Good luck.
Bruce C. Truesdale

Christine B. Adams

Christine B. Adams


Very well put Mr. Truesdale.


The filing fee for a Chapter 7 is $306, for a Chapter 13 $281, and for a Chapter 11 $1,213. Legal fees vary tremendously depending on where you will be filing and the details of your case. there is no "average cost".

The legal analysis of any situation depends on a variety of factors which cannot be properly represented or accounted for in a response to an on-line question. Any answer, discussion or information is intended as general information only, is not intended to serve as legal advice or as a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied upon in making any decision. If you have a question about a specific factual situation, you should contact an attorney directly.


The fixed cost of a bankruptcy is $306 for a chapter 7 filing and $281 for a chapter 13. All other costs are variable based on the attorney's services and pricing structure. As to whether your attorney is doing his job...that is an entirely different issue. You should place your request in writing, but I would not be overly reliant on the statements from a debt collection firm. Often times their record keeping can be less-than-stellar.

You state that your attorney has $1100 of your money. If you want to get him to refund part of it or all of it, you should place the request in writing and mail it to him.

Good luck.

Please note that I am not admitted to practice outside of the States of New York and New Jersey. Anything stated by me in this forum is for general informational purposes and is not intended to be taken as attempting to practice law in any juridiction in which I am not licensed. Further, the reading of these answers is merely for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship absent the signing of a retainer agreement.


$1,500 to $2,000 for Ch 7. $3,500 for Ch 13 exclusive of filing fees.

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