Bankruptcy judges not averse to apologies

Filing for bankruptcy offers Mississippians a fresh start to tackle their financial challenges. Personal bankruptcy is not always an easy decision, however. Once a person decides to file for bankruptcy, however, the road to financial recovery may be easier if the person is willing to show remorse before the bankruptcy court.

Legal and psychological scholars recently conducted a study about the effects of remorse on bankruptcy proceedings. They found that bankruptcy judges are more likely to approve a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan if a debtor apologizes. Judges see apologetic debtors as individuals who are taking responsibility of their actions and are likely to better manage their finances in the future.

Apologies are not a formal consideration under the bankruptcy code. They do relate to the greater purpose of the bankruptcy system, however. As one early bankruptcy case noted, personal bankruptcy gives an unfortunate debtor a new opportunity for the future, free from the pressures of looming debt.

For example, Chapter 13 of the bankruptcy code focuses on helping a debtor keep property and possessions. Individuals work with bankruptcy courts to outline a payment plan so they can satisfy their creditors' demands. Although debts are not immediately discharged, they eventually are upon the satisfaction of the payment. Debtors are protected from other lawsuits and creditor during the proceeding, so they are better able to focus on the task of meeting their financial obligations.

Bankruptcy can be a difficult time. It is the first step in taking responsibility for a difficult financial situation, however. Since bankruptcy judges appreciate such responsibility and remorse, Mississippians can potentially benefit from exhibiting such qualities in the courtroom as well as outside it.

Source: Science Daily, "Bankruptcy Judges Influenced by Apologies," March 4, 2013

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