The cost to file bankruptcy in California is $338 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $313 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in 2023, but the answer becomes more nuanced if you decide to file with a bankruptcy attorney and if you are trying to get the filing fees waived.
If you are like me, you probably wonder how you can afford the cost of bankruptcy in California when it’s difficult to pay bills, especially starting in 2023 as continues to be an issue. Many bankruptcy costs such as the filing fee and the credit counseling courses are relatively similar. That said, the cost of bankruptcy attorney fees may range dramatically whether you are in Los Angeles or San Diego.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with estimated all-in costs:
A Chapter 7 Bankruptcy is often less expensive than Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorneys in California can cost between $900 - $2000. The cost may increase or decrease based on the following factors: Complexity, location, level of attorney connection, and the bankruptcy lawyer's expertise.
Here are some of the ranges of cost in major cities in California.
Los Angeles is the most populated city in California with a population of 3,997,984. Bankruptcy attorneys in Los Angeles can cost an estimated $1,500.
Bankruptcy attorneys in San Diego can cost an estimated $1,500.
Bankruptcy attorneys in San Jose can cost an estimated $2,000.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys in California can cost $3300 - $4800. The fee can depend on the district.
While Chapter 7 attorney fees have variability, many Chapter 13 fees are relatively similar based on no-look fees, a reasonable cost for the service provided. You may still want to see whether the attorney charges an hourly rate for any additional work after filing the Chapter 13
Bankruptcy filing costs are pretty similar across the United States, not just California. Here are the other costs to consider.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee is $338 ($245 filing fee $78 administrative fee + $15 trustee surcharge).
The Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee is $313 ($235 filing fee + $78 administrative fee).
|# of People||150% Poverty Guideline|
|* Add $4,720 for each individual in excess of 9.|
When you file bankruptcy, you have to take an approved credit counseling course in California and a debtor education course. You can often take both courses online. The average cost may is around $10 to $50 per course. Please note that the courses must be approved, so here is the list of approved California credit counseling courses and California debtor education courses that should also have the cost associated with the course.
You may have to pay for transportation to the meeting of creditors at the courthouse. You may also have to pay for a credit report for your attorney (although they may be able to help you with the credit report).
You can estimate the cost of transportation to one of the bankruptcy courts below:
With rising inflation in 2023, a question I’ve heard is whether inflation will affect the cost of bankruptcy. Let’s cover whether inflation may affect the filing fee and the attorney costs in California.
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fee was updated from $335 to $338, and the Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing fee was updated from $310 to $313 effective December 1st, 2020. Based on the very slight change, I would not expect the filing fee to negatively impact you.
You may see some inflation in attorney fee costs as inflation may force bankruptcy attorneys to pay more to employees and face higher costs of living themselves in cities such as San Diego or San Jose or across California.
You may live in a suburb in California and wonder if you should hire a local attorney or an account in a bigger city like San Diego to save on bankruptcy costs.
As Los Angeles has the highest population in California of 3,997,984, you may expect that the cost of bankruptcy attorney fees may be higher in Los Angeles than San Jose.
While the cost may be higher in Los Angeles, there also may be more bankruptcy attorneys increasing competition and dropping prices. So, you actually could find that the total cost to file bankruptcy including bankruptcy fees could be actually much higher in your city than in Los Angeles.
One thing to be aware of is that most bankruptcy attorneys offer free bankruptcy consultations, so you can get multiple perspectives. Also, our bankruptcy cost calculator below takes into consideration those variables when providing you with an all-in cost estimate.
You may compare prices from two different bankruptcy attorneys in San Diego, and find attorney costs vary between two attorneys.
The Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys often charge the same amount regardless in San Jose due to the no-look fee (a normal fee for the services provided). That said, the Chapter 7 bankruptcy attorney fee can vary greatly, so it's important to understand what you are getting for the additional cost.
The bankruptcy lawyer cost is often based on the following attributes:
For example, let’s say you make $10,000 above the median income for California and still want to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The attorney may then have to spend additional time looking over your expenses to see whether you would qualify for a Chapter 7 even though you are above the median. Additional attorney time generally means a higher overall bankruptcy cost.
If you are interested to learn more, please visit this article: Understanding Bankruptcy Lawyer Fees.