Written Charleston Bankruptcy Lawyer, Russell A. DeMott
Your bankruptcy filing will not appear in your local newspaper.
About once a month I get asked about this. Clients believe that the local newspaper reports bankruptcy filings for individuals. It doesn’t.
It’s understandable that clients are worried about this bankruptcy myth. Bankruptcy is viewed as financial failure and, as such, something shameful.
But it’s highly unlikely anyone will find out if you file bankruptcy. Someone could find out, but they’d really have to want to know. And why would anyone want to know–unless you owe them money?
I’m a bankruptcy lawyer and have access to the electronic database (called PACER) for bankruptcy filings. But I’ve never checked so see if my neighbor filed bankruptcy. Why would I? And why would your neighbor?
Look at the big picture
And if you don’t file bankruptcy, you may end up having judgments entered against you at your county courthouse. It’s far more likely that those lawsuits and judgments would become known than a filing in bankruptcy court. Why? The folks at your local courthouse–the clerks and staff–live in your community. The bankruptcy clerks most likely don’t. Here in South Carolina, the clerk’s office is in Columbia. If you’re in Charleston like I am, it’s unlikely any of the clerks or court staff would know you.
This reminds me of a woman in a certain courthouse where I worked years ago. The joke used to be “Telefax, telephone, tele-Judy.” (That’s not her name, but you get the point.) In fact, she was such a prolific gossip, that if you wanted everyone to know something, you just told Judy first. That’s all you had to do. But even if there’s a “Judy” at the bankruptcy court here in South Carolina–which I doubt, by the way–she doesn’t know you anyway! Whew!
Your bankruptcy hearing
In all likelihood the only people you’ll see at your hearing will be other bankruptcy lawyers, others who’ve filed bankruptcy, the panel trustee, and U.S. trustee.
I did have a client bump into one of his Sunday school classmates a couple of years ago. But they were both relieved that they weren’t the only ones having financial problems. I could see what they were thinking, “You’re going through this, too! I’m not alone!” They shook hands and both felt relieved.
And do you think either of them will say, “Hey, I saw so and so at my bankruptcy hearing!” Not likely.
Bankruptcy will be less embarrassing than the alternative
Bankruptcy is a lot more private than litigation, judgments, foreclosure and other consequences of your financial problems. (Did somebody say Tele-Judy?) And you need to deal with the problem anyway, right? So don’t let an irrational fear that someone will find out about your bankruptcy get in the way of the need to address your financial problems!
Even if your gossipy neighbor does find out, she’ll soon find something more interesting to discuss–and the “more interesting” topics are endless… Remember Gladys Kravitz on “Bewitched”?