Does a person have to choose to go bankrupt?

Technically, no. Bankruptcy can be voluntary, which means instituted by the debtor, or it may be involuntary, which means it may be instituted by the creditors. Involuntary bankruptcy is most often instituted against businesses, but it is not unheard of for an individual to be pushed into involuntary bankruptcy.

Circumstances very often force individuals into bankruptcy. A job loss, an illness and, yes, very often divorce are the mile markers on the road to insolvency. Very often high living eventually buries a couple alive in a financial grave, and the stress and struggle, worries and woes of this regime undermine their marriage.

The lives of a couple approaching insolvency very often become a stressful routine of dodging creditors and the stopgap maneuvers of borrowing from Pete to pay Paul. Very often a person sinks deeper and deeper into debt until finally one unexpected expense pushes him or her into insolvency. He or she simply can no longer go on. In a phrase, paying for the past leaves no money to live today.

In short, the word choose must be used advisedly. For many Americans, bankruptcy is a Hobson’s choice; that is, no real choice at all.