I can remember a particular time when I tried to have one of my cases continued. The judge that the case had been assigned to had been defeated in a recent election, so the case was assigned to a new judge. The new judge was known for disposing of cases rather quickly, and he scheduled my case for trial much sooner than it had previously been scheduled to go to trial. I went to court and tried to have the matter continued. The judge simply would not budge from the new date. I told him that it was not fair. He responded that I should get over it, that life is not fair.
I thought about it for a moment and decided he was right. That is kind of how it is with bankruptcy. No one plans on filing bankruptcy. It may not seem fair, but it just happens. A person's circumstances are such that filing bankruptcy is oftentimes their only option. Either they can live in slavery for the rest of their life or they can file bankruptcy and start a new life.
People File Bankruptcy for a Variety of Reasons
People file bankruptcy for all kind of reasons including the following:
- Job loss or reduction in overtime caused a financial mess
- Unexpected and high medical bills due to a serious illness or injury caused significant financial difficulty
- Utilities have been or about to be shut off
- Cars and other types of property have been or about to be repossessed
- Bank is foreclosing on their home
- Debts may have simply become unmanageable to the point that you just need to eliminate a lot of them so you can once again have peace of mind and stop those harassing telephone calls
Besides the many reasons that I have just listed, there can be many other reasons. Life is difficult. No one said life would be easy and it often gets more difficult all the time.
People Worry About the Stigma Associated With Bankruptcy
One of the reasons that a person may not want to file bankruptcy is due to the stigma associated with it. When I was a kid, there was this person in my town who had filed bankruptcy three times. Everyone knew it. That was 40 years ago. Today, the filing of bankruptcy is a common occurrence. Of course, all of your creditors are going to know that you have filed bankruptcy, but it is not likely that other people will know. The filings do appear in the newspaper; however, most people do not check the newspaper for the bankruptcy filings, as they simply do not care—they are mainly concerned with keeping their own life on track.
Bankruptcy Is Not Limited to Those With Modest Incomes
Approximately 1 million to 1.5 million people file bankruptcy every year for many of the reasons mentioned above. When you think of people who file bankruptcy, the first thought is that those people are low or modest income people who do not have very much. But if you look into the actual bankruptcy filings, the picture is much different. A lot of rich people end up finding themselves in unexpected and even catastrophic situations that cause them to file bankruptcy. In fact, many of the rich and famous have filed bankruptcy. Consider this list:
- Burt Reynolds ("Smokey and the Bandit")
- Walt Disney ("The Wonderful World of Disney”)
- Henry Ford (the Ford Motor Company)
- Milton Hershey (famous for his candy bars)
- John Connally (a three-term Texas governor and U.S. Treasury Secretary)
- Larry King (radio and television host)
- L. Frank Baum (author of "The Wizard of Oz")
- Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain)
- Michael Tyson (former heavyweight boxing champion)
And the list goes on and on. But, regardless of your position in life, the filing of bankruptcy is considered a practical way of regaining control of your life and taking the first step on the road to recovery.
Debt Forgiveness Is Not a New Concept
The right to file bankruptcy is specifically mentioned in the United States Constitution. Article I, Section 8 provided the Congress with the power to create "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States." Congress has enacted many laws on the subject of bankruptcy over the years. In fact, the United States Supreme Court has interpreted these laws as to provide a person with "a new opportunity in life, unhampered by the presence and discouragement of pre-existing debt.
In fact, the thought of debt forgiveness can be traced back to Biblical times. In Deuteronomy 15:1-2, it is proclaimed that "at the end of every seven years you must cancel debts. This is how it is to be done. Every creditor shall cancel any loan they may have made to another Israelite. They shall not require payment from anyone among their own people, because the Lord's time for cancelling debts has been proclaimed."
Debt forgiveness is a thought in the New Testament as well. The New Testament makes reference to debt in Matthew 18:21-27:
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, Lord, how many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times? Jesus answered, I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. Be patient with me, he begged, and I will pay back everything. The servant's master took pity on him, cancelled the debt and let him go."
The thought behind the laws allowing a person to file bankruptcy is to provide them with an opportunity to once again become a productive member of society.
Attorney Rodney Shepherd Can Help You Get a Fresh Start
Filing bankruptcy is a way to start over, and Pittsburgh Bankruptcy Attorney Rodney D. Shepherd has the knowledge and experience to guide you through the process. Call him today at 412-471-9670 or fill out his online contact form—he will put you at ease and get you on the road to resolving your debt.