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Teens and Bankruptcy Court

Wise financial management and knowledge of the bankruptcy system are valuable assets to the modern citizen. This program is a collection of fictional scenarios that high school students can apply to their life to learn about bankruptcy and the importance of financial management.

To produce this program, The Office of Public Affairs consulted with the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges, bankruptcy judges, clerks, staff attorneys, teachers, and students to develop a courthouse experience for high school students. The purpose of the initiative is to teach educators and students about bankruptcy court as well as expose them to the considerations for and consequences of filing for bankruptcy protection.

About These Resources

Four Scenarios

  • First job - first credit crisis - An example of how entering the workforce with an inability to distinguish needs from wants and overusing credit cards can precipitate financial crisis.
  • Vehicles cost more Than the sticker price - An example of how not thinking through the ability to pay for all the costs associated with a car purchase can result in repossession of the vehicle.
  • Stuck with student loans - An example of how spending based on the expectation of future income can set the stage for overspending, the accumulation of debt, and long-term financial consequences.
  • Credit card applications and the fine print - An example of how not carefully reading credit card applications can have serious financial and legal consequences.

Additional Resources

How to Use These Resources

In the Classroom

  1. The scenarios may be used individually or as a series.
  2. Familiarity with the scenarios is required preparation for a visit to bankruptcy court. Every scenario is a fictionalized account of real-life circumstances.
  3. Introduction to bankruptcy is available for the teacher to use as background information and as a supplement, if a bankruptcy lawyer is invited to visit the classroom.

In the Classroom or Courtroom before a Court Visit with a Judge

  1. Have the students read the four scenarios.
  2. View the video Bankruptcy: Don't Let it Happen to You.
  3. Talk through the discussion questions.

Optional Court Visit

Teachers may arrange for a bankruptcy court visit that may include an observation of a hearing recommended by the bankruptcy clerk. If a judge is available, he or she may discuss with the students his or her personal experiences, observations, and perspectives. The purpose of this exposure is as follows:

  1. To learn, in another way, about bankruptcy court.
  2. To learn from a bankruptcy judge about the life circumstances that can precipitate bankruptcy, and the considerations and consequences associated with it.
  3. To put a human face on the Judiciary, and provide career information by having a judge talk about life as a bankruptcy judge, including qualifications, career path, selection process, and term of service.