How Do You Decide When To File For Bankruptcy?

The decision about whether to file for bankruptcy depends on many factors. If you are feeling overwhelmed with personal debt, you should start the process by talking to an experienced bankruptcy law attorney. The right lawyer will know what questions to ask.

The debt relief lawyer you hire will make a difference.

I am attorney Peter R. Scribner of Rochester, New York. I have 30 years of experience helping people get a fresh start by filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. In my experience, bankruptcy isn't the right solution for everyone. When you call for a free phone consultation about your family's financial situation, I may end up recommending some better options: 585-800-9616.

We won't know if filing bankruptcy is right until we talk.

During our initial telephone conversation, I will ask about your debts, your income, your expenses and your assets. Most importantly, I will ask you why you are considering bankruptcy and what you want to accomplish. I will advise you as to your bankruptcy and nonbankruptcy options. If bankruptcy must be explored more thoroughly, we will set up an appointment to review that option in greater detail. I invite you to read more about bankruptcy on this page. Contact me to start getting the straight answers you need.

Should You File For Bankruptcy?

Let's get a little more specific. You are considering bankruptcy because you are concerned about your debts. Broadly, you have three options in dealing with your debts:

Dealing With Debt On Your Own

You might be thinking, "If I could deal with my debts on my own, I wouldn't be looking for bankruptcy advice." That's probably true, but we must always consider this option. Dealing with your debts on your own involves several factors:

  • The amount of your debt
  • The kinds of creditors you are dealing with
  • Your income
  • Your level of sophistication
  • Your tolerance for frustration
  • The amount of free time you have

Negotiating directly with creditors is time-consuming and frustrating. In addition, if you are significantly behind on your payments, you may actually have more success negotiating a deal than if you are only a month or two late.

Consumer Credit Counseling

If your debts are not too high compared to your income, a legitimate program of consumer credit counseling may be your best option. For more on this option, see our page on credit counseling.


If you can't possibly pay your debts as things stand, you can't negotiate your own debt reduction, and you have too much debt or too little income to qualify for a consumer credit counseling plan, then is bankruptcy your best option? Probably. But every situation is different.

Bankruptcy offers a powerful result — a legal discharge of your personal liability on most debts. But when you file bankruptcy, you are submitting your entire financial situation to a judicial court and — this is very important — once you file bankruptcy, you must assume you can't unfile or withdraw. That is why it is so important to clearly understand the risks and consequences before making your decision.

Making Your Decision

This decision is yours to make. Seriously. No bankruptcy attorney can — or should — ever say, "Yes, you should file bankruptcy." Your attorney's job is to clarify the consequences, good or bad, as well as your alternatives. In most cases, the answer is obvious. Once you have determined what you want to achieve and what options are available, you will be able to make an informed decision for yourself.

Contact me to learn more about my experience and how I can help you get a fresh start. Call my office in Rochester, New York, at 585-800-9616.

My law firm is a debt relief agency. I help people file for bankruptcy relief under the Bankruptcy Code.