The Declaration of Independence begins with the phrase “we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal”.
Americans take the idea that we are all on equal footing very seriously. We believe that no one is above the law and that everyone can succeed and prosper.
We also believe that bad things can and do happen to good people. Just as no one is barred from pursuing life’s joys and pleasures, no one is immune from life’s challenges and occasional bouts of bad luck.
This is where bankruptcy comes in.
“Bankruptcy? Surely you’re not speaking of bankruptcy as a good thing…”
No one wants to be in a position where bankruptcy is the answer. However, providing a way for people to eliminate or restructure their debts is in keeping with our shared values.
We value giving people a second chance and encourage people to take risks in order to succeed while being prepared to cushion the fall if failure is a part of their successful journey. Bankruptcy serves as a safety net for individuals, families, and businesses who strive to achieve the American dream.
Bankruptcy’s Origins in the United States
The concept of bankruptcy has been around nearly as long as our nation. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the United States Constitution grants Congress the power to enact “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies”.
The federal “Bankruptcy Code” has been modified throughout the many decades since, including the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 and, most recently, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA).
All It Takes Is One Unfortunate Event to Get the Ball Rolling
Sometimes you stumble and catch yourself, while other times you stumble, flail, and step on a banana peel. No one should be too smug about bankruptcy, thinking of filers as “moochers” or “losers” as we are all one stumble from finding ourselves staring bankruptcy in the face.
One lost job or one medical emergency can lead to one missed payment, which leads to penalties, which leads to another missed payment, and so on. Before a person can right their financial situation, they find themselves running in place or falling behind on the debt treadmill.
Just in case someone struggling with debt does not feel bad enough about their plight, collections agents will be sure to rub it in. Harassing phone calls, nasty letters, and even calls to places of employment become the norm when someone has fallen behind on their payments.
Once again, bankruptcy is the answer. An automatic stay goes into effect when bankruptcy is filed, barring creditors and collection agencies from contacting a debtor or garnishing wages. This allows debtors the breathing room they need to collect themselves and work on a long-term solution to their financial problems.
Bankruptcy Is Not One-Size-Fits-All
There are different types of bankruptcy available for different situations. For example, a business may decide it’s prudent to restructure their debt in an effort to stay afloat. Chapter 11 is the best solution for this situation.
A family that has fallen behind on their mortgage payments due to debt, but would have the income to make the payments if they could straighten things out, can pursue Chapter 13 bankruptcy to reorganize their finances.
Someone who is drowning in medical bills or credit card debt and needs a fresh start can opt for Chapter 7 – or liquidation – to wipe the slate clean.
Bad Things Can (& Do) Happen To Good People
Like life insurance, bankruptcy is there for you even though you hope you never need it. In the meantime, remember to count your blessings. And if you do find yourself in need, reach out to our helpful attorneys to make sure it’s done correctly.