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There is a common misconception that people who file for bankruptcy don’t understand how to manage their money. People assume that someone who declares bankruptcy is guilty of excessive credit card use, expensive purchases, and living outside of his or her means. While credit card debt does account for a number of bankruptcy petitions, there are many other reasons why people file for bankruptcy.

Sudden job loss, divorce, or medical illness can all create a substantial financial burden to the average American family. Divorce is particularly expensive because it requires each person to pay legal fees and incur the cost of running two separate households. In addition, the high cost of medical care makes it difficult for anyone to cover fees associated with unexpected illness or injury. For some people, financial problems are brought on by an inability to find steady employment. According to U.S. News and World Report, 5.2 million Americans had been unemployed for at least six months as of April 2012.