Yes. Before you file for bankruptcy, you must take a brief credit counseling class and get a certificate proving that you have done so. If you are planning to file jointly with your spouse, you can both attend the same counseling session, but each of you must get a separate certificate. You can usually take a class online or over the phone.
The counseling class usually costs around $50 to $75. However, federal bankruptcy law states that credit counseling agencies must provide credit counseling services without regard to a client’s ability to pay and must disclose the possibility of a fee waiver or fee reduction before beginning the counseling session.
Many critics of federal bankruptcy law see the credit counseling requirement as a bureaucratic obstacle for already-desperate debtors. Perhaps so. But try to make the most of your 90-minute session by getting as much free information as you can. You may be able to use it as a way to get a second opinion about your financial situation, and to gauge whether bankruptcy is, indeed, the right choice for your situation. (Keep in mind, however, that a credit counselor is not legally allowed to tell you whether or not you should file for bankruptcy.)
For more information, see the the Credit Counseling FAQ from the U.S. Department of Justice. When you're ready to sign up for a counseling class, you can use this list of court-approved credit counselors.
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