06/11/2010 at 01:00 AM EDT
The Real Housewives of New Jersey
star Teresa Giudice
is breaking her silence after it was discovered that she and her husband Joe
filed for bankruptcy.
"While this is a personal matter, I realize that certain aspects of my private life will always be subject to scrutiny and distortion," Giudice says in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE. "What is true is that due to the economy, most of my husband's real estate ventures failed despite his hard work and effort. As a result, we looked to the Bankruptcy Court for a 'fresh start.'"
Indeed court papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark, N.J., show that Giudice, 38, and her husband filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which requires liquidation of assets in order to pay creditors, in October of last year.
Papers also show that the couple had to undergo credit counseling, and were awarded a temporary stay on payments for their Cadillac Escalade and mortgage payments for properties.
In the documents filed, the pair declared their personal assets, which include real property and personal property, as $2,261,150. But their liabilities – $8,709,831.34 – far exceeded that number.
In addition, the couple had to assess their monthly income. Combining Joe’s salary as owner of G&G Stucco and Stone Specialist in Clifton, N.J., with Teresa’s income from Bravo and "monthly assistance from family members," that number totaled $16,583.33. Their expenditures, including their mortgage, food, clothing, dry cleaning, health insurance and other expenses, total $16,582.
The couple owes more than $33,000 on various store credit cards, $85,000 for home repairs and $91,000 for materials used to build their new home.
During the first season of The Real Housewives of New Jersey
, Giudice, who famously flipped a table
on the show, and her family moved into their $1.7 million mansion in Towaco, N.J. The reality star, who was often filmed treating her daughters
to new clothing and expensive toys, was also depicted flashing stacks of cash while furnishing the house. And in a recent episode on the second season, she boasted of spending significant funds on her daughter Gia
's spa birthday party.
"When fall, the way to success is to get up and learn from our mistakes," Giudice says. "We are in that process." –Charlotte Triggs