There are two out-of-pocket costs to bankruptcy:
You can avoid lawyer’s fees two ways: File your own bankruptcy or find a lawyer whose time will not cost you anything.
You can avoid filing fees by asking the court for a fee waiver.
You can file your bankruptcy petition on your own, which will avoid any lawyer's fees. However, filing on your own a risky strategy.
Most self-created and filed bankruptcy petitions are not successful. Virtually all lawyer-produced bankruptcy petitions succeed. Why? Bankruptcy law is among the most technical specialty areas of law. It's easy to make a mistake with bankruptcy paperwork, which will cause the court to dismiss the case.
Bankruptcy lawyers are specialists. They learn bankruptcy law inside out. Bills.com recommends readers filing bankruptcy to do so with a lawyer's assistance to have the best chance of success.
If you can't afford a lawyer, then consult with a local organization that helps low- and no-income consumers find low- and no-cost legal services. See the Bills.com article Where to Find No-Cost Legal Aid if You Have Low or No Income. Help may be available, but you need to ask for it.
Bankruptcy courts provide options to people who cannot afford filing fees.
For example, if your income is below a certain amount, the court may waive your filing fee altogether.
Even if your income does not qualify you for a fee waiver, the court may allow you to pay your fee in installments rather than a lump sum. Discuss filing fee options with your lawyer.