Bankruptcy / California / Cost

How Much It Costs To File Bankruptcy In California In 2022

Written by Ben Tejes
Updated Apr 13th, 2022

The cost to file bankruptcy in California is $338 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $313 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, 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 in 2022 as inflation runs rampant. 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:

  1. Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
  2. Bankruptcy Filing Costs

Estimate the Bankruptcy Attorney Fees in Your Zip Code

We received the question of how much a bankruptcy costs in California so often that we built a database of attorney fees. Use your zip code below to estimate the cost of bankruptcy in your city in California.

1. Bankruptcy Attorney Fees California

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.

Attorney Fees in Los Angeles

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.

Attorney Fees in San Diego

Bankruptcy attorneys in San Diego can cost an estimated $1,500.

Attorney Fees in San Jose

Bankruptcy attorneys in San Jose can cost an estimated $2,000.

2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Fees California

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

3. Bankruptcy Filing Costs

Bankruptcy filing costs are pretty similar across the United States, not just California. Here are the other costs to consider. 

Bankruptcy Filing Fees

The US Courthouse has a fee schedule and a bankruptcy form that provides the filing fee. 

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).

If you cannot afford the filing fee, you may be able to pay the filing fee in installments or it could be waived altogether. For more information, please see the California filing fee information and the information below

California Filing Fee Waiver Guidelines

You may be eligible to have your Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing fees waived if you are below 150% of California poverty guidelines. For example, you can see the guidelines below for cases filed within California in 2022. 

# of People150% Poverty Guideline
1$13,590
2$18,310
3$23,030
4$27,750
5$32,470
6$37,190
7$41,910
8$46,630
9$51,350
* Add $4,720 for each individual in excess of 9.

Mandatory Course Costs

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. 

Miscellaneous Costs

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:

Northern District

  • Phillip Burton Federal Building
    & United States Courthouse
    450 Golden Gate Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building
    & United States Courthouse
    1301 Clay Street
    Oakland, CA 94612
  • Robert F. Peckham Federal Building
    & United States Courthouse
    280 South 1st Street, Room 2112
    San Jose, CA 95113
  • United States Courthouse
    3140 Boeing Avenue
    McKinleyville, CA 95519

Eastern

  • Robert E. Coyle United States Courthouse
    2500 Tulare Street
    Fresno, CA 93721
  • Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse
    501 "I" Street
    Sacramento, CA 95814

Central

  • 350 W 1st Street, Suite 4311
    Los Angeles, CA 90012-4565
  • 255 East Temple Street
    Los Angeles, CA 90012-3332
  • 3470 Twelfth Street
    Riverside, CA 92501-3801
  • 411 West 4th Street, Room 1053
    Santa Ana, CA 92701-4516

Southern

  • 221 West Broadway
    San Diego, CA 92101
  • 333 West Broadway
    San Diego, CA 92101
  • 2003 W. Adams Ave, Ste 220
    El Centro, CA 92243

Will Inflation Affect the Cost To File Bankruptcy in California?

With rising inflation in 2022, 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.

Would My Bankruptcy Cost Be Higher Los Angeles Than San Jose?

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. 

Why Do Some Attorneys Charge Higher Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees? 

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:

  1. Which type of chapter you are filing (i.e. Chapter 7 vs Chapter 13)
  2. The complexity of your case (i.e. no asset vs asset)
  3. Your location (i.e. Los Angeles vs San Diego
  4. Level of attorney connection
  5. Attorney expertise (i.e. how many years of experience)

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.

Conclusion

As you can see, the cost to file bankruptcy in California is often based on the city in which you live and the type of bankruptcy that you are filing. The biggest variable that affects all-in bankruptcy cost is the attorney fee, which may range between  $900 - $2000 for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and $3300 - $4800 for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Hopefully, this article provides helpful information to help you understand the all-in costs to file bankruptcy with a bankruptcy lawyer. Please reach out if you have any questions or take the free California bankruptcy cost calculator below.