Filing for bankruptcy in New York can be a lifeline when drowning in debt. But, it’s not free. Let’s get real about these costs.

The first thing to understand is that there are two types of fees involved – attorney fees and court charges.

The typical expense for a lawyer in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy situation is around $1,450. This includes advice on whether you should file bankruptcy or consider other options like debt relief programs, help with preparing your bankruptcy forms, representation at the local bankruptcy court hearings and more.

Besides lawyer costs, filing for Chapter 7 without legal aid would set you back by $338 just as a filing fee. You may also need to factor in credit counseling expenses which typically fall under $50.

Financial Assistance for Bankruptcy Costs

If these numbers seem daunting because your household income barely covers basic needs – don’t panic. There’s hope yet.

You could qualify for a fee waiver if your income falls below 150% of the federal poverty level (you can check out current poverty guidelines here). That means no upfront payment needed.

Paying unsecured debts might become secondary while prioritizing attorney fees could offer better long-term benefits. A practical approach? Stop paying nonessential bills temporarily to afford an experienced consumer bankruptcy attorney who will ensure smoother sailing through this financial storm.

Filing for bankruptcy without a lawyer, known as filing pro se, might seem like a tempting way to save on attorney fees. However, it’s not always a straightforward process.

The Pros and Cons of Filing Pro Se

Let’s face it; dealing with bankruptcy forms can be overwhelming. It involves complex legal issues such as nonexempt assets and discharging debt which you need to understand thoroughly.

You’ll also have to familiarize yourself with local bankruptcy court procedures. For example, the credit counseling and financial management courses required before filing for bankruptcy typically cost under $50. These are necessary steps in every case filed in local bankruptcy courts across the country.

The good news? You may just pull off successfully navigating your own case through these rough waters if you’re disciplined enough.

On the flip side though, there could be pitfalls awaiting those who brave this path alone – mistakes can result in losing property or even having your case thrown out. So consider this route carefully because while saving on attorneys’ fees sounds appealing initially, any missteps could end up costing more than hiring professional help from the get-go would’ve done.

A quick tip: If stopping payments on bills is an option for you (which isn’t advisable), then using that money instead to hire a seasoned lawyer might turn out being a smarter move long term.

Exploring Legal Aid Options

Filing for bankruptcy might seem like a daunting task, especially when considering the costs. But don’t let that stop you from seeking debt relief. There are legal aid options available to help you navigate this financial storm.

Finding Pro Bono Legal Assistance

You can start by searching for pro bono attorneys who offer their services free of charge or at a reduced cost to those in need. These dedicated professionals can guide you through your bankruptcy case and help ensure your rights are protected.

If pro bono lawyers aren’t an option, check out local legal aid societies. They often provide free clinics where experienced volunteers give advice on consumer bankruptcy matters. Also, there are many cheap bankruptcy attorneys in New York. The Law Office of William Waldner provides FREE consultations, and we outline all of the costs involved in the process. Most clients are able to afford the fees because their debts are eliminated. 

Applying for a Filing Fee Waiver

Beyond attorney fees, filing costs can also be a burden but there’s more good news here too. It’s possible to be excused from certain court costs if your earnings are less than 150% of the federal poverty guidelines. This means that the court could potentially waive some or all of its charges associated with filing Chapter 7.

To apply, submit an application form along with your bankruptcy petition. The judge will review it based on your income, expenses, and the nature of your debts.

Remember, bankruptcy is a complex process. Whether you choose pro bono legal help or apply for fee waivers, these options can lighten the financial load and give you a fresh start.


Bankruptcy might seem like a pricey endeavor…

But remember, you can afford bankruptcy with the right approach and resources.

You’ve learned about the costs involved in filing, including attorney fees and court charges. And we dove into how to handle these expenses when money is tight.

We discussed filing pro se (without an attorney), exploring its pros and cons for your unique situation.

You now know there are free or low-cost legal assistance options available through pro bono attorneys or legal aid societies.

Applying for fee waivers based on income level? That’s also doable!

The best place to start is with a trusted attorney who can guide you in the right direction. Request your free consultation with The Law Office of William Waldner. We will be happy to discuss your financial situation and how we can help!