When you declare bankruptcy, you attest under oath that you cannot pay your consumer debts as promised, according to both the United States Bankruptcy Court Western District of Michigan and the book "How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy."
Generally, bankruptcy cases aren't free; as of 2010, it costs $299 to file for Chapter 7 debt elimination and $274 to pursue a partial debt repayment plan under Chapter 13, notes the United States Bankruptcy Court Western District of Michigan.
Some debtors will be approved for an installment payment plan of court costs, notes the book "How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy." In extreme cases of financial hardship, bankruptcy court officials can waive the typical court costs entirely.
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Bankruptcy court staff cannot give you legal advice; if you require legal help to file a case then you must hire a paralegal or attorney, warns the book "How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy." The costs of a bankruptcy attorney vary from state to state and also depend upon the potential complexity of your case.