Chapter 13 Bankruptcy is Courageous Response, Not Easy Out

This morning I couldn’t resist clicking the link on my hometown newspaper’s webpage:  Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas’ Mom filed for Bankruptcy.   I was glad I did.  Turns out that Mrs. Douglas filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, and is repaying her creditors under a Chapter 13 Plan. This is what Gabbi Douglas’ mom said about her bankruptcy filing:  “It’s my story, it’s part of me. I’m not even embarrassed about it,” Hawkins said Sunday in London. “It shows that even though I didn’t like to have to do it, I’m glad there was something there for me to be able to protect my home.”

Wow.  Such a courageous statement.  First of all, I think most people who have been forced to file bankruptcy due to financial hardship would cringe if their bankruptcy filing was reported in the media.  Fortunately, usually only celebrity bankruptcies are noted by the media.  I don’t suppose that Mrs. Douglas thought she would be a celebrity at the time she filed her bankruptcy last January, and never thought it would be a matter for public consumption.    Nevertheless, her response is admirable.  Essentially she says that while she would rather not have had to file bankruptcy, she is glad an option existed to help her keep her home, and she’s not apologizing for it.

I think some people have the notion that filing bankruptcy is somehow taking the easy way out.  It’s not–especially a Chapter 13 bankruptcy.  By filing a Chapter 13 you are dedicating yourself to living on a budget and paying every excess penny to your creditors, usually for five years or so.  Nothing easy about that–but it works, and it can save your home, car, or business.

I already knew Mrs. Douglas was a woman of character and courage–that shows in her daughter, and in the way she selflessly stood aside and allowed her daughter to follow her dream.  In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am also the mother of a gymnast, so I know a little of the worry and anxiety that goes along with being a gym mom.  Just watching takes a toll, not to mention the rest of the sacrifices, both tangible and emotional, that go along with that.  So I was not surprised that Mrs. Douglas had the courage to talk about her situation, as well as the intestinal fortitude to deal with the problem in a positive, constructive way.  I’m sure she is gratified by her daughter’s athletic success, but to me that’s just icing on the cake.  The real payoff is setting your kids up for success in life, and Mrs. Douglas is a great role model for dealing with adversity in a positive way.

You go, girl.


Däna Wilkinson (pronounced "Donna") is a bankruptcy lawyer practicing in Spartanburg, South Carolina and serving South Carolina's upstate region, including Greenville, Spartanburg, Gaffney, Union, Anderson, Easley and Pickens. She has been in practice for more years than she cares to count, but it’s more than 20 years. Däna has been a bankruptcy lawyer from the very beginning of her career as a lawyer.

Däna went to law school at the University of South Carolina, where she was Student Works Editor on the South Carolina Law Review and a member of the Order of Coif. She started doing bankruptcy work while still a student, working for a bankruptcy boutique firm whose members included a Chapter 7 panel trustee, and recognized experts in Chapter 11 reorganizations. She enjoyed the work from the beginning, and upon graduation took a job as a law clerk to the Honorable Rodney Bernard, bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Louisiana. Judge Bernard had spent a number of years on the bankruptcy bench, and was an excellent teacher and mentor. Upon Judge Bernard’s retirement, Däna stayed on for a time as clerk to the Honorable Donald W. Boe, until homesickness for South Carolina struck, and she returned to private practice in Charleston. Four years later, she received an offer to return to Columbia, where she practiced until 1997.

In 1997, planning to start a family, Däna decided to return home to the Upstate, and opened her own practice in Spartanburg in 1998. Over the years, Däna represented all sorts of parties in bankruptcy: business debtors in reorganization, individual debtors, creditors and creditors’ committees, and trustees. In establishing her own practice Däna decided to focus on consumer debtors, ordinary people who find themselves overwhelmed by debt. Her focus is on the individual needs of clients, and on crafting a solution to their unique financial needs. She is committed to helping clients make a fresh start, and preserving their dignity in the process.

Däna is the proud mother of a beautiful, talented and very active daughter, who is, as her mother says, “practically perfect.” She is also active in both church and community activities, all of which means that there is a fair chance that any given blog post was written while in the car pool line or while waiting for a hearing or a meeting to start.

Däna is also certified as a bankruptcy specialist by the South Carolina Supreme Court, which means that she has taken and passed a proficiency examination on bankruptcy law, devoted her practice to bankruptcy for a number of years, and continues to take classes on bankruptcy law and related issues.

Contact information for Däna Wilkinson:

Law Office of Däna Wilkinson
365-C East Blackstock Road
Spartanburg, SC 29301
(864) 574-7944
[email protected]

Däna also blogs at

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