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The Real Reason To File For Bankruptcy

Rule of reasonPeople who are deep in debt are told to fight back against their creditors and bill collectors.  Bankruptcy lawyers extoll the virtues of filing to stop foreclosures, collection calls, and income executions.

Good reasons, to be sure – but often, the reason to file for bankruptcy isn’t a reason at all.

After all, reason is logical.  The decision to file for bankruptcy is, often enough, not a logical one at all.

Collection calls are a pain in the neck (and other parts) but many of my clients have found an end-run around this particular problem.  They block all calls that don’t show a caller ID, or shut down the landline entirely in favor of a cell phone.

If they’ve given their cell number to the debt collectors, people simply ditch the number and get a new one.  At the very least, they stop answering the phone altogether.

If they’re behind on the mortgage, most people either try to “work with the lender” (which, by the way, seldom works) or make plans to move once someone comes knocking on the door.

It’s only in extreme cases that bankruptcy is considered as a viable defensive tactic – and that’s borne out by the relatively small number of people who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy as a way to catch up on their arrears.

Income executions are scary at first, but a surprising of folks live with those as well.  A few bucks comes out of the paycheck, and it’s considered a cost of doing business.  Not a fun one, but you’d be shocked at how many of my clients have been living with a wage garnishment for years before they come to me.

For many, the solution is to put their head in the sand.  Maybe, they reason, the bill collectors will go away or the debts will get too old to be enforceable.  Yes, it happens – not often, but it does occur.

The Real Reason To File For Bankruptcy

You file for bankruptcy when you realize that it’s no fun to stick your head in the sand.  You file for bankruptcy when you’re tired of swapping out cell phones like a drug dealer on the run.  There’s no reason at all – it’s purely emotional.

You file for bankruptcy not because of the impact on your credit score, but for the peace of mind it gives you.  For the freedom to pick up the phone, to sleep at night, and to think about other things for a change.

For the right to provide for yourself and your family, and to live with dignity again.

When you’re ready to dust yourself off and get back in the game of life, you’re going to pick up the phone and call me or someone like me.  Not a moment sooner.

I used to buy into the hype that you file for bankruptcy as a defensive measure, and that people called me office because of some immediate situation.  To some extent that’s true, but I’d say it amounts to a minority of my clients.

Most of my clients tell me that they decided to call because they were ready, and that enough is enough.  Not because of any single event, but because they were ready for life to be positive, peaceful and happy again.  Their emotions finally won out.

How about you?

Image credit: Will Lion

By |April 9th, 2012|

About the Author:

I've been a consumer protection lawyer since 1995, working to help people end their bill problems. I'm a faculty member at the Student Loan Law Workshop, a nationally recognized speaker, and a long-time member of both the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys and National Association of Consumer Advocates.
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