Moral and Ethical Questions About Bankruptcy

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Bankruptcy expert Leon Bayer answers real-life questions.

Dear Leon, 

I hope you can answer this. This is a moral question not a legal question. I want to file bankruptcy. I owe about $30,000 in credit card debts. I am a single mom with two kids. I am totally struggling. I haven’t had any money to make payments in a long time. I can barely buy food. Bill collectors are driving me crazy. A Los Angeles bankruptcy lawyer I talked to said I am a perfect candidate for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I asked my family to help me pay the lawyer fee and my family wants to give me the money to pay off my debts instead of file bankruptcy. What do you think I should do?  Thanks.


Dear Catherine,

Moral and ethical questions concerning bankruptcy are very much included within this blog.

You stopped paying the debts and you are still struggling to meet basic living expenses. It sounds to me like you will need financial help from your family for some time to come. I think it’s fine if your family pays off your debts, provided they are so wealthy that they won’t miss any of the money. If not, the money they have offered might be better spent on helping you and your kids with necessities. Things like a reliable car, a decent place to live, and grocery money are more important. I would rather see your family help you and the kids with that money.

Paying off your already-delinquent debts does not save or restore good credit. It doesn’t pay your rent or put food in the fridge.

If you decide to pay the debts, consider making settlement offers instead of paying them in full. Most creditors will gladly accept 20% to 50% of what you owe as full settlement of delinquent debts.

After everything is considered, bankruptcy sounds to me like the best way to help you.


Leon Bayer is a Los Angeles bankruptcy attorney.  He is a partner at Bayer, Wishman & Leotta, a California law firm specializing in bankruptcy.  The opinions and advice in this blog post are from Mr. Bayer alone, and should not be attributed to Nolo.  By answering a question on this blog, Mr. Bayer does not become your lawyer.

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