I’ve always been very vocal about how ridiculous the bankruptcy laws are here in the United States. Now, stuck in the middle of this nonsense myself, I see even more how poorly things are done. What’s the solution? I don’t know, but something needs to change.
You see, I didn’t file for bankruptcy myself. Sadly, after 4 years, my wife walked out on me and then a couple weeks later told me she was going to file for bankruptcy. Under much duress (The divorce was her idea – I had hoped since we had started having problems back in December of 2007 that we could still reconcile), I hired a lawyer to prepare divorce papers to protect myself from her bankruptcy.
An interesting aside – proof enough that things are out of control in this country – remember when you had one attorney and he or she handled everything from lawsuits to criminal offenses? Well, at least they could handle all matters civil or criminal. Not any more. Now we have tax lawyers, divorce lawyers, bankruptcy lawyers, personal injury lawyers… There is a separate lawyer (and law firm, unless you’re blessed to be able to afford a $10,000 retainer) and a separate retainer for each and everything you might imagine.
So, I hire this divorce attorney. She prepares the paperwork. I have a copy sent to my soon-to-be ex-wife. On the advice of her bankruptcy attorney (who has never dealt with a divorce case), she refuses to sign the paperwork, instead filing for bankruptcy while begging me for more time to decide what to do.
Now, suddenly, I am stuck in this mess – she takes NO responsibility for any debts – including the house, rental property and unimproved lot that we own. In the meantime, she takes government subsidized Section 8 rents acquired from the Fort Myers Housing Authority and uses it to pay her lawyer. Now, the bank that holds the note on the rental property wants the money they haven’t been paid since February of 2008, they’re ready to foreclose, and are planning to hold me responsible for any deficiency between how much they can sell the house for and how much we owe. They won’t hold her responsible. Why? Because she filed for bankruptcy.
So here I am, I am trying to do the right thing – trying to pay my creditors what I owe, but because I am being an upstanding citizen, I am going to get screwed. Not to mention, if I had been given the rent money that was received from the tenants, I could have paid the mortgage every month and not be facing a default.
What’s more, when I found out she wouldn’t give me the rent and I would be unable to pay the mortgage, I contacted the Mortgage Holder, CitiCorp Trust Bank (now CitiMiortgage), to ask them if they would consider deed-in-lieu of foreclosure. I was told that they could do nothing until the bankruptcy was settled. But then they filed to be released from the bankruptcy, got it granted and proceeded with the foreclosure.
Meanwhile, I’ve now had to hire my own bankruptcy attorney – even though I’m not filing for bankruptcy – to look out for my interests. A guy who is fighting hard, but is losing against the system – because I didn’t file for bankruptcy.
What is wrong with this country when people who choose to pay their creditors are treated with less consideration than people who are basically telling the government and their creditors “screw you”? Not only are we screwed by having to pay higher interest rates and taxes and fees to offset the losses from the folks who do file for bankruptcy, we are seen as second-class citizens by the court system. Granted, I shouldn’t have gotten into debt, and I am trying to get out, but hello! Shouldn’t hard working people who do their part be given the same consideration as people filing for bankruptcy, accepting welfare and/or getting other government handouts?
And the “new” bankruptcy system is a joke. I went to the first creditor’s meeting – hoping I could talk to some of my creditors and reaffirm my interest in repaying the debts. In a room filled with about 20 bankruptcy filers, there was ONE CREDITOR– A private citizen who was listed as a minor debtor – my father. In fact, the trustee’s representative is so used to not having any creditors that there isn’t a sign-in sheet, guidelines or anything to tell creditors how to behave. My soon-to-be ex-wife’s lawyer, when confronted by my father with the fact that he hadn’t properly noted her maiden name or business name on the paperwork, replied, “it’s inconsequential – it has no bearing on the debts.” Except that at least TWO of those debts were IN her maiden name. Luckily, the trustee agreed. Upon hearing the transcript, he rejected her bankruptcy payment plan and made her refile.
So here I am. About to be foreclosed on, broke, still in debt, trying to do the right thing. What does the government suggest?? WHY DON’T YOU FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY?
Sorry, I can’t do that. Psalm 37:21 makes it clear that bankruptcy isn’t an option for those who believe: “The wicked borrow and do not repay, but the righteous give generously.”