Over the years, many people in California have sought consumer bankruptcy protection when their debts get out of control. According to a report from Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, over 770,000 bankruptcy cases were filed in fiscal year 2018, but this represented a reduction by more than half compared to filings in 2010. Bankruptcy experts attribute the decline to many factors, such as an improving economy, more access to healthcare and the pressure that student loans place on younger people.
Medical bills have long driven people into bankruptcy courts. One attorney said that the Affordable Care Act increased access to healthcare coverage, which reduced the number of people left with medical bills that they could not pay. Older Americans, however, remain deeply burdened by medical costs and low income because their demographic accounts for a growing portion of bankruptcy cases.
Among younger generations, student loan burdens could be preventing them from running up other debts on credit cards. Their monthly bills to maintain student loans take up too much of their income for them to qualify for other forms of credit. Despite this situation, they typically lack the ability to prove a hardship that might enable the discharge of their student loans, which bankruptcy law largely prohibits.
Individual circumstances vary, and an attorney may provide a person with specific advice about how to pursue debt relief. Bankruptcy might present a solution when a person has no reasonable hope of keeping up with payments and basic living expenses. An attorney may be able to answer questions about assets that the law exempts from liquidation and the loans that could qualify for discharge. When a person chooses to file for bankruptcy, legal representation may help them disclose assets and debts completely to a court and avoid delays or denials.