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Why do people file for bankruptcy?

You may have reason to believe that filing for bankruptcy would improve your financial situation. However, you may worry about what other people will think of you if you file.

People may assume that bankruptcy is the result of overspending or financial irresponsibility. While this is sometimes true, it is more likely that you file for bankruptcy because of unfortunate circumstances beyond your control. CNBC provides a few specific examples.

Divorce or separation

Divorce or separation from a spouse is a factor in 24.4% of all bankruptcies in the United States. Not only is the divorce itself expensive, but after your divorce, you may have to support two households on the same income. This may stretch your budget to its breaking point.

Unaffordable mortgages

Some people take out mortgages that they cannot afford in the first place. However, even if you were careful to borrow no more than you could afford at the time, a mortgage may become unaffordable if you lose your job or if property taxes increase. An unaffordable mortgage is a factor in 45% of all bankruptcies.

Medical debt

Health care costs and expenses related to medical treatment are a factor in approximately two-thirds of all bankruptcy filings in the United States. That amounts to approximately 530,000 American families forced to file for bankruptcy.

Even if you have health insurance, there may be high-cost treatments that your policy does not cover. A majority of Americans do not have enough savings to cover an emergency expense of $1,000 or more. You also may have trouble paying bills because of the time you have to take off work to recover from an injury or illness.


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