You never "have to" file for bankruptcy. You need to find pro bono services in Brooksville, FL for divorce and bankruptcy so that you know your options. You may be "judgment proof" meaning your wages, etc. cannot be taken. However you must have a roof over your head. Get to your local courthouse and ask about free and pro bono services. Then follow up and make an appointment to sort out your situation. Don't let it pile up any further. Best of luck. Most local courthouses have a free self-help desk and information and referrals for other free and low cost services.
Whether you can stay in the house is doubtful, but circumstances may allow. Before moving any closer to a bankruptcy decision, take the time to consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will do a full case review and explain to you what it means to be "collection-proof." Beware of any attorney that doesn't meet with you personally or seems intent on selling you a bankruptcy. If you do not know an experienced bankruptcy attorney who will offer reliable independent advice (and not a sales pitch) use the attorney-finder at www.nacba.org.
Best wishes for an outcome you can accept, and please remember to designate a best answer.
This answer is offered as a public service for general information only and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
I'm truly sorry for the tough times you are facing and I hope it gets better for you. The answer to your question is subjective (i.e. it's differs between different individuals). If the $15k in creditors sue you and/or are harassing you to the point you cannot deal with them then the answer is "yes" your should file, however if you fell on "temporary" tough times and you may be able to pay this nominal $15k in debt in the future and preserve your credit score then the answer is "no." I hope the best for you and I hope things pick up for you financially, however If not, then you can always file for bankruptcy and take the pressure off. Good luck.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do for yourself right now is to consult with an attorney who specializes in foreclosure defense and is also well-versed in consumer protection law. An experienced attorney should be able to present sound advice and set forth a plan of action you can take that may very well help you avoid bankruptcy altogether as I always believed bankruptcy should be used as a last resort. Best of luck to you.
Michael P. Fuino, Esq.
Associate, Matthew D. Weidner, P.A.
This answer is for informational purposes only and should not be construed, in any way, as the acceptance of representation and the creation of an attorney-client relationship. No attorney-client relationship shall exist unless and until a retainer agreement has been signed by Matthew D. Weidner, P..A. and countersigned by the prospective client.
First I would like to send my condolences. I've certainly come across a great many people in your very situation over my practice. There are several issues here, the first is whether you "have" to file bankruptcy. No one is required to file it, though in many cases it can be beneficial. I know another attorney mentioned earlier that there is the possibility that you may be "judgment proof" but I would like to stress that while it might be possible that you could be "collection proof" (IE that a creditor may not be able to repossess your assets or garnish your wages) it is generally not the case that you are "judgment proof" as a creditor can still file suit and get a judgment against you for the amount owed. When I worked as a collection attorney it was very normal to file suit on otherwise collection proof people in hopes that their situation would change at a later date and they would become collectible. Because of that I would recommend that you do attempt to deal with the debt and seek pro bono assistance in your area. That help may be in the form of bankruptcy if after a consultation you can determine that bankruptcy is right for you or attempting to negotiate with the creditor. Many creditors are willing to work out much more lenient deals when the other side is represented by an attorney. Finally talk with the pro bono attorney about ways you might save money each month as well.
I hope you have the best of luck resolving the credit cards!