Cost to File Bankruptcy in the District of Columbia (2024)

Bankruptcy can feel like an overwhelming journey, but understanding the cost to file and the estimated bankruptcy attorney fees in the District of Columbia is the first step.
Information in this article does not constitute legal advice, it is for informational purposes only, and may not constitute the most up-to-date information. Readers should contact their attorney for advice on any particular legal matter.

The cost of filing bankruptcy in the District of Columbia may seem straightforward at first glance, but it's actually a bit more complicated. In 2024, the filing fee for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy is $338, while a Chapter 13 bankruptcy costs $313. However, there are additional factors to consider, such as whether you choose to hire a bankruptcy attorney and if you qualify for fee waivers.

 We did some digging and spent around $1,000 on PACER, a public records database, to get a more accurate picture of attorney fees in the District of Columbia. As of 2024, we found that Chapter 7 attorney fees can range from $1,200 to $1,500. Keep in mind, though, that this is just an estimate. If you want a more precise estimate based on your location, feel free to check out our free District of Columbia bankruptcy cost calculator below.

If you're anything like me, you're probably wondering how you can afford bankruptcy in the District of Columbia, especially when it's already tough to pay the bills, what with interest rates and inflation still causing headaches in 2024. Sure, some bankruptcy costs like filing fees and credit counseling courses are pretty similar across the board. But when it comes to attorney fees, they can vary wildly depending on whether you're in Washington, D.C. or East Washington, D.C.

Now, let's get down to business. This article aims to provide you with estimated all-in costs, covering two main categories:

  1. Bankruptcy Attorney Fees
  2. Bankruptcy Filing Costs

Estimate the All-In Bankruptcy Cost in Your Zip Code

We've been getting a ton of questions about the cost of bankruptcy in the District of Columbia. So, we went ahead and created a database of attorney fees just for you. Now, you can easily estimate how much bankruptcy might set you back in your city in the District of Columbia. To get an estimate tailored to your specific location, all you need to do is enter your zip code below. 

Table of Content

1. Actual Lawyer Costs By District Of Columbia

We've already discussed a range of bankruptcy expenses for various circumstances in our postings. There are a few additional factors that will impact the total when bankruptcy is considered. A few instances include the location of the bankruptcy attorney, the intricacy of the case, and the level of experience the attorney has. Geographical location is another important aspect impacting possible expenses. We wrote the essay that is available to walk you through the process and provide an explanation of the costs in your location. Let's examine the real expenses as stated in Pacer's filing material in more detail. 

District of Columbia

Covering a substantial area, the District of Columbia includes major urban centers like Washington, D.C. Operating within the Eastern Time zone, this district encompasses the federal capital and does not include counties. It features a central courthouse in Washington, D.C., and additional court facilities throughout the district, overseen by several active district judges. The diverse economic activities and dynamic communities in the District of Columbia contribute to the overall richness of the region.

For residents in proximity to Washington, D.C., within this district, the expected bankruptcy filing cost can vary, often falling within a range from $1,150.00 to $1,661.00. It's crucial to bear in mind that this is an estimate, and actual expenses may fluctuate based on factors such as your financial situation and the choice of legal representation.

2. Chapter 13 Bankruptcy Attorney Fees District of Columbia

Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys in the District of Columbia can charge around $3,000. However, the actual fee may vary depending on the district you're in. Unlike Chapter 7 attorney fees, Chapter 13 fees tend to be more consistent. They are often determined by what is known as "no-look fees," which are considered a fair and reasonable cost for the services provided. It's worth noting that some attorneys may charge an hourly rate for any extra work required after filing for Chapter 13. So, it's always a good idea to check with your attorney about their billing practices.

3. Bankruptcy Filing Costs

Bankruptcy filing costs are pretty much the same all over the United States, not just in the District of Columbia. So, if you're thinking about filing for bankruptcy, it's important to know about the other costs involved. Let's take a look at what you need to consider.

Bankruptcy Filing Fees

The US Courthouse has a fee schedule and bankruptcy forms that lays it all out for you.

Now, if you're going for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the filing fee is $338. That's broken down into a $245 filing fee, a $78 administrative fee, and a $15 trustee surcharge.

If Chapter 13 bankruptcy seems more like the way to go, the filing fee is a bit lower at $313. That includes a $235 filing fee and a $78 administrative fee. And in other cases, you might even be able to get the fee waived altogether.

For more details on how that works, you can check out the District of Columbia filing fee information here

District of Columbia Filing Fee Waiver Guidelines

If you're thinking about filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you might be eligible to have your filing fees waived if your income falls below 150% of the poverty guidelines in the District of Columbia. Be sure to check out Chapter 7 Bankruptcy District of Columbia Income Limit.

Mandatory Course Costs

When you're in a tough financial spot and decide to file for bankruptcy, there are a couple of courses you need to take in the District of Columbia. You can usually complete these courses online, which is super convenient. But before you jump in, there's something you should know - these courses have to be approved. Be sure to look at the list of approved credit counseling courses and debtor education courses in the District of Columbia. The courses usually cost between $10 and $50 each. So, you can plan your budget accordingly.

Miscellaneous Costs

If you've got a meeting of creditors coming up at the courthouse, it's important to know that you might have to shell out some cash for transportation to get there. On top of that, you might also have to cover the cost of a credit report for your attorney. Your attorney might be able to lend a hand with getting that credit report sorted. Let's talk numbers. You're probably wondering how much this whole transportation thing is gonna set you back.

We’ve made it easier for you to figure that out by hovering over to your district using this interactive map below showing the bankruptcy courthouse in the District of Columbia.

Will Inflation Affect the Cost To File Bankruptcy in District of Columbia?

When it comes to the filing fee for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it recently went up from $335 to $338. As for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the fee went from $310 to $313. These changes came into effect on December 1st, 2020. But here's the thing, the increase is so small that it's unlikely to put a dent in your pocket.

However, when it comes to attorney fees, things might be a bit different. See, inflation could cause bankruptcy attorneys to shell out more money to their employees and deal with higher living costs, especially in places like East Washington, D.C. or West Washington, D.C., or anywhere else across the District of Columbia. So, there might be some inflation-related uptick in attorney fee costs.

Would My Bankruptcy Cost Be Higher in Washington, D.C. Than in West Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C. is the hub of the District of Columbia, with a population of 702,455. With such a large population, you might expect the cost of bankruptcy attorney fees to be higher in this city compared to its counterpart, West Washington, D.C.

While the cost may indeed be higher in Washington, D.C., there's a twist. You see, the city also boasts a larger number of bankruptcy attorneys, which means more competition. Therefore, competition often leads to dropping prices. You might just find that the total cost of filing bankruptcy, including the attorney fees, could be much higher in your city than in the bustling streets of Washington, D.C.

Most bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. You can get multiple perspectives without spending a dime. Our bankruptcy cost calculator below takes all these variables into account to give you an estimate of the all-in cost.

Why Do Some Attorneys Charge Higher Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Fees? 

Let's start with East Washington, D.C. You might be surprised to find that prices can vary between different bankruptcy attorneys.

Now, let's head over to West Washington, D.C. Here, things are a little different. Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys usually charge a fixed fee known as the "no-look fee." But when it comes to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, things get a bit more interesting.

When filing for Chapter 7, attorney fees can vary greatly. And that's where it gets tricky. You need to understand what you're getting for the extra amount you're shelling out.

So, what determines the cost of a bankruptcy lawyer? Well, there are a few factors at play. First, it depends on which chapter you're filing under - Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Then, there's the complexity of your case. Are you a "no asset" case or an "asset" case? Trust me, it makes a difference.

Where you're located is another factor. Is it Washington, D.C., or East Washington, D.C.? as well as the level of attorney connection? Are they well-connected in the bankruptcy world? Do they know the ins and outs of the system? It all matters.

Lastly, there's the attorney's expertise. How many years of experience do they have under their belt?

Here's a little example to give you a taste of what I'm talking about. Let's say you're making $10,000 above the median income for the District of Columbia, and you want to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Well, guess what? Your attorney might have to spend some extra time going through your expenses to see if you even qualify.

If you're curious to learn more about bankruptcy lawyer fees and how they work, I recommend checking out this article: Understanding Bankruptcy Lawyer Fees. It's always good to be informed before making any decisions, especially when it comes to something as important as your financial future.


I hope this info helps you understand the overall costs of filing bankruptcy with a lawyer. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. And if you want to get an estimate tailored to your situation, check out the free District of Columbia bankruptcy cost calculator below.

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