Bret Nason, Platteville, Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney

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happy familyThis page contains general information. Contact a WBG attorney for specific advice.

What do you think of when you think of a person who files for bankruptcy? Unethical, irresponsible, shifty, thief?

Many people have a misconception about the people that Dan and I meet with every day. It seems that some people believe the typical bankruptcy filer is someone who ran up thousands of dollars of debt, buying luxury items they couldn’t afford. Once the creditors asked that the money be repaid, the debtor skipped merrily to an attorney’s office and filed bankruptcy. But that doesn’t describe any people I’ve worked with. I assume Dan would say the same thing.

The vast majority of my clients tell the same story:

– They were paying their bills and living paycheck-to-paycheck, with nothing left over for savings.

– Something happened that caused a loss of income and/or an increase in expenses. This “something” is where the story differs. The event could be a divorce, illness, injury, loss of a job, cut in pay, cut in hours, etc.

– Because of this event, the client is now running a deficit, bringing in less than necessary to meet their expenses.

– People need to pay the rent/mortgage and need to eat. So they use credit cards for a few months, hoping that things will get better “next month.”

– For a few months, they make the minimum payments on the cards, just trying to stay afloat for a few more weeks.

– By the time they are able to get their income in line with their expenses, the client is in such a deep hole that there doesn’t seem to be any hope of ever paying off the debt.

I don’t see irresponsibility in that scenario. I see people doing whatever they can to put food on their tables and keep roofs over their heads. If you can only do one, is it more ethical to feed your kids, or to pay your MasterCard bill in full? There’s a big difference between people unwilling to pay their debts and unable to pay. I have no doubt that the former exists, but the latter describes most of the people I see.

Who files for bankruptcy? People who have had bad luck. As the proverb says, “there but for the grace of God go I.” If you’re suffering financial hardship, you’re not alone. Don’t let guilt or shame keep you from talking to an attorney and learning about your options.

More bankruptcy questions? Check our our FAQ page.

This page contains general information. Contact a WBG attorney for specific advice.
Wisconsin Bankruptcy Guide is provided by law firms designated as Debt Relief Agencies by the federal government because we help people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code. We also provide other types of debt relief options.

Image Credit: Vera Kratochvil

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