Federal law (28 U.S.C. §1930) requires the payment of a fee to file a bankruptcy petition and also, in limited circumstances, permits such fees to be waived or paid via installments.
In a chapter 7 case voluntarily filed by an individual, if the debtor's income is less than 150% of the federal poverty level relative to the debtor’s family size, and the debtor is unable to pay the fee in installments, the Court may waive payment of the fee. A fee waiver may be requested by filing a completed Application for Waiver of Chapter 7 Filing Fee. If the Court denies the request, the debtor may be required to pay the fee in full or via installment payments.
An individual filing a voluntary case (or married spouses voluntarily filing a joint case) under any chapter who is unable to pay the full fee at the time of filing may request the fee be paid via installments by filing an Application to Pay Filing Fee in Installments.