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Pamela Foohey, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Robert M. Lawless, University of Illinois College of Law
Katherine M. Porter,  University of California – Irvine School of Law
Deborah Thorne,  University of Idaho

Date Written: February 20, 2018  94 Notre Dame Law Review __ (forthcoming 2018)

Abstract

The time before a person files bankruptcy is sometimes called the financial “sweatbox.” We find that people are living longer in the sweatbox before filing bankruptcy than they have in the past. In the article we describe someone’s health and well-being are affected by their time in the sweatbox.  For those people who struggle for more than two years before filing bankruptcy—the “long strugglers”—their time in the sweatbox is particularly damaging.

afraid of filing bankruptcy

Strugglers: those who need help, but afraid to ask

During their years in the sweatbox, long strugglers deal with persistent collection calls, go without healthcare, food, and utilities, lose homes and other property, and yet remain ashamed of needing to file.

For these people in particular, though time in the sweatbox undermines their ability to realize bankruptcy’s “fresh start,” they do not file until long after the benefits outweigh the costs. This Article’s findings challenge longstanding narratives about who files bankruptcy and why. These narratives underlie our laws, influence how judges rule in individual cases, and affect how attorneys interact with their clients.

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MUSINGS BY DIANE:

If I had one wish it would be that we all help each other.  There are so many people living in fear – whether because of abuse or financial nightmares.  If we as family, friends or neighbors would take a few minutes to talk with these people struggling then perhaps we can help guide them to solutions, or at least be a helpful ear.

Remember – their situation could happen to us in a blink of an eye.

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Diane L. Drain

Diane L. Drain, bankruptcy attorney, retired law professor, mentor and community spokesperson.

About Diane Drain:

Diane is a well respected Arizona bankruptcy and foreclosure attorney. As a retired law professor, she believes in offering everyone, not just her clients, advice about bankruptcy and Arizona foreclosure laws. Diane is also a mentor to hundreds of Arizona attorneys.

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