This is not exactly the way we wanted to ring in the New Year: Under preliminary year-end figures, Wisconsin unfortunately posted a record number of foreclosure court filings in 2009. As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, there were almost 31,000 foreclosure filings across the state, up about 20 percent from the 2008 benchmark (about 26,000). Foreclosure filings increased 17 percent in southeastern Wisconsin, with Milwaukee County responsible for about half of them. Kenosha County home foreclosure filings increased by nearly 30 percent in 2009, the biggest jump in the area.

Some financial observers maintain that the foreclosure rate will only go down with a corresponding increase in employer hiring. The jobs picture in 2010 appears uncertain, however. In the meantime, many homeowners seem to be fighting an uphill battle to stay current on their mortgage payments amidst job losses, other mounting debts, and disappearing equity in their property. Recognizing the ongoing economic struggles, Marshall & Ilsley Corp., Wisconsin’s largest bank, announced a grace period on foreclosures through March 21, 2010, to allow their borrowers to reach a mutually acceptable repayment agreement.

For those consumers facing Wisconsin bank foreclosures, bankruptcy may be a viable option. The bankruptcy laws in Wisconsin are designed to help consumers get their lives back in order rather than punishing them for falling into a difficult situation. Depending upon the specifics of your balance sheet and other factors, a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Milwaukee might allow you to clear away your debt or set up a manageable payment plan to deal with it. In many instances, an individual bankruptcy in Wisconsin allows you to keep your home, and in the short term, foreclosure attempts by the bank come to a screeching halt.

Do you need bankruptcy help in Milwaukee or elsewhere in Wisconsin? Declaring bankruptcy is a major decision point, but it isn’t the end of the world. With the assistance of a qualified debt consolidation lawyer, many consumers bounce back relatively quickly. An experienced Wisconsin bankruptcy attorney can provide the legal advice that could provide a way forward.