So, let's face it; nobody wants to admit that they are in financial distress, and nobody wants to think that Bankruptcy is the best option for them. In over twenty years of Bankruptcy practice, the vast majority of people wait until the last minute, when all other options have been exhausted, to consider Bankruptcy as a solution to a fresh start.
People who file for Bankruptcy often blame themselves. This feeling is totally understandable, but it is placing the blame in the wrong place. You should never feel like a failure for filing for Bankruptcy, because it is simply a legal process designed to resolve something that is not resolvable by any other means. The system is smart enough to know when someone can truly afford to pay back their debts and it doesn't allow those people to obtain a Bankruptcy discharge. In almost every case, people who file for Bankruptcy do so because there are no other viable options to pay back their debt by conventional means.
And this is where the problem happens. Because people are generally honest and want to pay their bills they wait way too long to explore their options. They get into “debt consolidation” plans and burn thousands of dollars, only to find out months (or years) later that they have not really made a dent in their debt. Sometimes, when money does come in (such as a tax refund), they blow it all on their creditors when that money could be better spent on their families, because however well-intentioned their payments are, they didn't really affect their overall debts.
Just yesterday, a very nice woman came to my office and she had sold her home, and used the proceeds to pay down some of her debt. While that was an admirable thing to do, she didn't pay enough of her debt off to avoid a Bankruptcy, and now, that money (that could have been used to help her family) is gone.
Most Bankruptcy attorneys offer free consultations. Unfortunately, some attorneys use those consultations as sales pitches, but you should feel empowered to consult multiple Bankruptcy attorneys to find the one that you are comfortable with. That attorney's advice will feel less like a “sales pitch” and more like sound legal and financial guidance. They should take you through a basic budget and explain to you why (or why not) a Bankruptcy is a solution to your problems. By talking to an attorney before things get out of hand, you might be able to save yourself valuable time and resources, and merely consulting with a Bankruptcy attorney has almost no downside, other than your time.
Above all, you should NEVER feel like a failure. By consulting with a competent legal expert, you are doing the responsible thing for you and your family. You did not go into your relationship with your creditors with the idea in mind that you would not pay them back. When you got into debt you had every intention of paying it back, but sometimes real-life hits you hard and defeats the of best intentions.
Throughout your life, you should consult with financial and legal experts, but that is true for both when things are going well, and for when things are not going so well. In both cases, you are doing the responsible thing, but waiting, or hoping that things will get better is never a smart option.