There’s no shame in bankruptcy

07 Mar There’s no shame in bankruptcy

People who are thinking of filing bankruptcy cases tell me that they are ashamed.

Most bankruptcy lawyers keep tissues in their conference rooms. Many clients cry when they talk about filing their bankruptcy case. Sensitive attorneys are ready for this – we have tissues ready.

We can understand why our clients feel many emotions. For example, people who file bankruptcy cases might reasonably feel:

  • sorrow
  • embarrassment
  • regret
  • anger
  • disappointment
  • upset
  • remorse

But remember Tom Hanks – playing the role of the baseball manager in “A League of their Own. I do. In that movie, the women playing baseball in a professional baseball league during World War II are crying. And Tom Hanks says – I’ll never forget it – “There’s no crying in baseball.”

I say – “There’s no shame in bankruptcy.” Bankruptcy is part of our social contract. It is the ultimate safety net. It is a part of our civilization that an honest debtor should get a fresh start. Nobody should be so poor that they become permanently enslaved to their creditors.

Shame is for shameful behavior. Here are just a few people who should be ashamed:

  • Elliott Spitzer
  • Tiger Woods
  • Mark Sanford
  • Jim McGreevey
  • Larry Craig
  • Mark Foley

Need I explain? I think not. The list goes on and on. Shame is for people who engage in reprehensible behavior voluntarily. Shame is for those who would hold themselves out as standards but in fact who have no standards.

Most people who seek bankruptcy relief have nothing for which to be ashamed. Most people who file bankruptcy are honest but unfortunate people who have faced problems through no fault of their own like:

  • illness
  • unemployment
  • natural disaster
  • accident or injury
  • foreclosure

If you are an honorable person but face financial difficulties, don’t let shame paralyze you. Find an attorney who will treat you with dignity as you navigate your way to a fresh financial start.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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