It’s All Contextual

When I was in Law School, my Civil Procedure professor (Joseph Kearney, Dean of the Marquette University Law School) loved to use the phrase “it’s all contextual”. And how right he was.
From time to time, I will get a client who becomes very upset because I just told him that he did not qualify for Chapter 7, and instead had to file for Chapter 13.  He’s upset because his co-worker, who makes more money than he does, recently filed a bankruptcy and was able to do so under Chapter 7. “How can I make too much money to qualify for Chapter 7,” he will ask me, “when my friend Bob makes more money than I do and he qualified for Chapter 7?”
What my client forgot is that Bob has a wife and four kids, whereas my client is a bachelor. The applicable median income levels are different for these two people.
It’s all contextual.
Another great example I get from time to time. “I don’t want to file for bankruptcy! My sister filed for bankruptcy and they took away her house!” What my client forgot is that perhaps her sister was four months behind on her house and decided not to file under Chapter 13 to stop the foreclosure. Or perhaps her sister had $200,000 in equity, whereas my client’s house is mortgaged to the hilt.
It’s all contextual.
The important lesson here is that bankruptcy is very complicated. Attorneys, such as myself, have the necessary training to parse through the details of your finances and to determine how a bankruptcy will affect you. Comparing your bankruptcy to your friend’s bankruptcy will drive you insane unless you know exactly what is different between the two of you, and how those differences will affect your case. No two people are alike, and no two bankruptcy cases are alike. A lot of wild rumors fly around about bankruptcy. Usually, someone who wasn’t particularly happy with the result of his bankruptcy will spread these myths about bankruptcy, which are not necessarily true, particularly since the bad results arose from that person’s particular (perhaps peculiar) financial situation.
Unless you want to go to law school and learn about bankruptcy on your own, you really ought to take the time to speak with a competent attorney to discuss your financial circumstances and explore your options. Try not to let ridiculous myths or half-truths frighten you from getting the financial help you need.