Bankruptcy protection cuts across all walks of life and income brackets. A previous blog posting summarized Oscar winner Nicolas Cage’s vast financial problems. Another case in point: former NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar. Last week, a Florida bankruptcy judge converted his Chapter 11 case to a straight-up Chapter 7 liquidation at the request of the court-appointed trustee. This means the trustee will sell off Kosar’s property and distribute the proceeds to his creditors in an attempt to satisfy at least some part of his outstanding obligations. In his bankruptcy documents, Kosar listed about $9 million in assets but almost $19 million in debt. Among other debts, he apparently owes his ex-wife $3 million from a divorce settlement and $1.5 million to the Cleveland Browns, the team where he made most of his reputation in the mid-80s through the early 90s. Kosar is also said to be on the hook to a bank for $9 million in bad real estate deals. His restaurant business went under last year.

At least from the outside, Kosar’s lifestyle would seem to set him far apart from the most people. While most financially stressed consumers aren’t facing red ink of this magnitude, that in no way minimizes what Wisconsin families have been dealing with in a down economy. As a matter of fact, the bankruptcy laws in Wisconsin and in other jurisdictions were not necessarily designed for the high rollers, but to help everyday consumers who have gotten themselves into a bind. Lots of people find themselves out of work, and Wisconsin bank foreclosures seem to be everywhere. For many consumers, an individual bankruptcy in Wisconsin means you might be able to keep your home and car and other essentials, even in a Chapter 7 liquidation. A Wisconsin bankruptcy lawyer has the wherewithal to provide a range of options for debt relief in Wisconsin.