Financial Law

Can I File for Bankruptcy Protection a Second Time?

The other day I received a call from a client (we don’t refer to our clients as former clients because we believe that once you retain our firm we become part of a big family, and once you are part of a family, you are stuck with us. Kind of like that crazy uncle you dread seeing at holiday parties, lol). She had moved to Orlando approximately 15 years ago. When she filed bankruptcy with our firm approximately 18 years ago, she had come into our Port Charlotte office.  At that time, we had offices in Port Charlotte, Fort Myers and Naples only. So, flash forward 18 years, and with her living in Orlando, and facing severe financial problems, she reached out to us again because she really didn’t know where to turn.

She was happily delighted to know that we now have offices in Tampa, and Orlando, and handle cases all over the State of Florida. Likewise, she was happy to know that I remembered her and the details of her prior case.

How exact words were: “I thought you would have forgotten about me.” I said: What? No way.” “You surprised us when you brought us the best home made peanut butter cookies.” She laughed and said: “I forgot about that.”  I replied:  “ I didn’t.”

Anyway, she told me what was going on and what her concerns were about her financial future. After about 30 minutes on the phone together, we had a plan, and we were ready to move forward.  Yes, you can file bankruptcy more than once in your life, provided you meet the requirements of the United States Bankruptcy Code.  She certainly did, and filing for bankruptcy a second time in her life was not only necessary, but, it was the right thing for her to do under the circumstances.  Unfortunately, each of us will face speed bumps in the road of life.  Some people will have small speed bumps In front of them, and others will experience larger ones.  Some people experience large ones several times in their lives.  I’ve learned that it is not what life throws at you, it’s how you deal with it.

This woman has been through a lot in her life, and she was unsure how her financial picture would look with this new problem.  I was able to assure her that we could handle the problem for her and that she would be fine once her chapter 7 bankruptcy was filed and discharged.  She was so happy that she had a plan going forward.

Afterward, she told me that she was afraid to reach out to us because she was a bit ashamed that she might have to file bankruptcy again. I told her that I understood her feelings, and I had heard this from other people facing similar circumstances, but, in my opinion, that is nonsense. No one asks for financial difficulties. No one asks for a medical condition which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. No one asks to lose a loved one. But, these things happen.

When people face financial problems, they tend to believe that they are all alone in the world, they are afraid to reach out for help for fear that they will be judged, and nothing could be further from the truth. I learned a long time ago that financial problems do not discriminate. I’ve represented Doctors, Lawyers, Financial Planners, and CPA, all of who never thought that they would be in my office. Ever since I protected my first client from a debt collector many years ago, I knew that a portion of my practice would always be to help Floridians fight to protect themselves from debt and unscrupulous debt collectors.

I specifically designed this law practice so that people facing any type of debt problems or injury as a result of someone else’s negligence could call on us, and we would be there for them. Can we help everyone? No, that’s just silly. Just because you are bigger doesn’t mean you are better. It just means you are bigger. Do you recall the story of David versus Goliath?  Better is better. Like I said, we cannot help everyone who has been injured or who is facing financial problems, but, we can be there to provide hope for those who have lost it.