Nadya Suleman, known the world over as “Octomom” because of her historic birthing of eight children last year, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Los Angeles. That’s “old” (Read: more than a week) news.
What does her bankruptcy tell us about people who file bankruptcy? As it turns out, probably not much.
The assumption that people who file bankruptcy are irresponsible — and that a lifelong stigma attaches itself to them – has largely been debunked. There are several reasons, not the least of which is that unprecedented numbers of good people have been forced to consider it, due to the terrible economy of the last few years. Many people had stable, significant incomes and were living The Dream when the bottom fell out of the housing and construction markets. That led to a recession that has endured, which has been compared to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Those catastrophic events happen periodically, as do serious illnesses and injuries that cause loss of income and other life events that are beyond the control of most of us.
Granted, hindsight being 20/20 it is tempting for many to wring their hands and feel badly about a bankruptcy filing, supposing they could and would have done things differently if….. That is possible, and caution is now the order of the day. I have met with hundreds of honorable people who sincerely hate meeting with a bankruptcy attorney and who wish we’d met under different circumstances. One of my goals is to get them to laugh, or at least smile once before they leave my office.
As for Octomom, it is easy to read the story and wonder what she was thinking in incurring large amounts of debt with very low income. But I try to live by two wise sayings; refuse to judge a person until you “walk a mile in his shoes,” and even better, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”