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Olympic gold medalist's mother facing Chapter 13 bankruptcy

When an individual is facing serious financial constraints and a mounting debt load, one option may be filing for personal bankruptcy. In today's faltering economy, financial hardship has touched a wide range of individuals and families in Michigan who may have never thought that bankruptcy could be in their future. One high profile example of the wide reach of bankruptcy protection can be found in the Chapter 13 filing of Natalie Hawkins, mother of Olympic champion gymnast Gabby Douglas, who touched the hearts of many Americans with her recent performance at the 2012 London games.

Hawkins filed for Chapter 13 in January 2012, hoping for the chance to reorganize her financial standing and pay down existing debt over a period of several years. Within the filing, Hawkins is listed as holding assets valued at a little over $163,000. Most of that value comes from her home and personal vehicle. In speaking out about the filing, Hawkins has told reporters that the move was designed to give her the ability to stay in her home while working toward regaining financial stability following her placement on long-term disability in 2009.

The Olympic mom listed debts totaling $80,000, mostly resulting from her mortgage. She listed approximately $2,500 in monthly income, which is paid via disability benefits and child support payments. In addition to daily living expenses, Hawkins also pays for her daughter's gymnastic training. There are also three other children who rely on their mom for support.

This filing demonstrates that anyone can find themselves in need of financial assistance in the form of Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection. The publicity surrounding Hawkins' decision to file may help Michigan residents decide to take control of their financial future. When an individual finds that there is insufficient income to handle their outstanding debt load, it is time to take action before the problem worsens. Understanding the available options, including Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, is the first step toward a clean slate and a new start toward financial stability.

Source: ESPN, "Gymnast Gabby Douglas' mother, Natalie Hawkins, filed for bankruptcy in 2012," Aug. 5, 2012

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