What happens if I don’t make my filing fee installment payments to the bankruptcy court?

Your case gets dismissed, you still owe the money, and you are no longer protected from your creditors.  

So when you file bankruptcy, you are required to pay a filing fee to the bankruptcy court.  Currently, the fees are $335 for a chapter 7 and $310 for a chapter 13.

Many people chose to pay these filing fees in installments to the bk court AFTER filing their bankruptcy case.  In those cases, the attorney files an Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments.

(I wrote about it briefly here:  http://robertspaynelaw.com/myutahbankruptcyblog/2014/03/27/can-you-pay-the-bankruptcy-court-filing-fee-in-installments-after-you-file-the-bankruptcy/  )

However, if you miss one of those filing fee payments, the court may dismiss the case immediately, or may issue an Order to Show Cause accelerating all of your filing fee payments to be due in the next 2 weeks.  If the case is dismissed, your creditors can start calling you right away, they can start garnishment, and yes, they can come repossess your financed cars.

If you are lucky, you only have to face the Order to Show Cause.  But now, you’ve got to pay the remaining filing fees as a lump sum.  Your installment plan over the next 2 months is gone.


Yes, it is possible to reinstate your case and vacate (take back) the dismissal, but it takes at least a month of no bankruptcy protection and a complex motion that your attorney will probably charge you to prepare and file.

New Case

Even worse, if you try to file a new bk case, you owe new filing fees plus you still owe those prior filing fees to the court.  Your old bankruptcy case does report to your credit, because it was filed (even if it did not go all of the way through).

Strategic Dismissal

Some people may even think that it’s a good idea to quickly crank out a bankruptcy case to stop a foreclosure or garnishment and then let it simply dismiss out when they fail to make that first installment fee payment. This is a bad idea.  Now you have a bk on your credit for the next 10 years (because you DID file), and if you try to file again. the automatic stay (bankruptcy court protection) may be gone on subsequent cases.  And yes, you still owe those filing fees to the court.