For a long time, anyone in Rockingham County who was underwater in debt could use bankruptcy as a way to free themselves of debt and start afresh. Although there are still many people and businesses that file for bankruptcy in New Hampshire every year, the number of people who have filed since 2010 has been steadily declining. While many people may see a fall in the number of people filing for bankruptcy as a sign of our country’s improving economic health, that is not necessarily wholly accurate.

In 2005, a law was passed that made it much more difficult to file for bankruptcy. If someone has the means to pay his or her debt, then he or she should pay it, thought Congress. This has forced many people to look for other means of debt relief to escape the debt that they feel they cannot afford to pay.

Another reason why bankruptcy may not be individuals’ first choice is because of the cost to apply. For people who are already strapped for cash, a high application fee may just be cost-prohibitive. For others, the negative reputation bankruptcy has may be enough to prevent them from filing.

Even if someone chooses not to file bankruptcy, it does not mean that he or she must remain in debt. By working with a bankruptcy attorney, an individual may be able to reduce some of his or her debt, pay back the rest and be able to manage future debt. Exploring the different debt relief options is an important step for anyone struggling to pay down debt.

Source: Philadelphia Business Journal, “Bankruptcy filings lowest since 2007; Tennessee biggest deadbeat state,” Kent Hoover, Jan. 6, 2014