When people say “I do,” they probably aren’t planning to become buried in joint debt, fight with each other over finances and end their relationship in both bankruptcy and divorce. But often the reality is life becomes expensive, money is lost, people change, and sometimes couples realize they would be better off on their own again.
We understand that you didn’t see this coming when you got married. We would never wish this situation on anyone, but we want you to know that we’re here to help you get out of debt so you can focus on starting fresh with independence. If you’re going through financial and marital struggles at the same time, and you’re considering both bankruptcy and divorce, here are a few things to consider before you proceed.
Which to File First: Bankruptcy or Divorce?
The answer to this question (and many other questions about bankruptcy and divorce) is different depending on each unique case, your individual incomes, your amount of debt and the type of bankruptcy you will file.
It is important to remember that once your divorce is finalized, you will not be able to discharge the joint debts you agreed to pay in the divorce settlement.
Another point to note is that filing for bankruptcy before divorce might make the divorce proceedings simpler because there is no joint debt to distribute between the husband and wife. However, there are still many other factors to discuss with your bankruptcy lawyer before you decide which case to file first
Should we File Bankruptcy Together or Individually?
If you and your spouse held a joint credit card and one of you refuses to pay your fair share, the other is liable to the creditor for the balance owed. Similarly, if one of you files individually for bankruptcy, the other will still be responsible for the debt.
If you both file for bankruptcy together before your divorce, your joint debt can most likely be discharged. Again, each side of this decision has its pros and cons, so consult your bankruptcy attorney for some perspective on your particular situation.
How Will Property Division Work?
Your property cannot be divided in divorce court until bankruptcy is complete, unless the divorce court is explicitly instructed by the bankruptcy court to proceed. Therefore, filing for bankruptcy during a divorce might delay the divorce settlement.
Will we Both be Obligated to a Long-term Repayment Plan?
If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy together, you will be both be responsible for fulfilling the three to five year repayment plan. To avoid this type of long-term engagement or a bankruptcy slowing down the divorce proceedings, you might consider (if you qualify) filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which generally can discharge your debt in a matter of months.
Will I Still Have to Pay Child Support?
Alimony, child support or family support cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. If you are filing for bankruptcy during your divorce, your bankruptcy does not prevent the divorce court from assigning you child support obligations.
An Understanding Memphis Bankruptcy Attorney
As you can probably tell, there are a variety of factors to consider when you are planning to file both a divorce and a bankruptcy. This post is meant to give you a general overview of things to think about in that situation, but it is by no means an exhaustive list of everything you need to make your filing decisions.
We understand that you are likely stressed enough as it is without trying to figure out on your own what the law says about your situation. As your trusted Memphis bankruptcy attorney, I want you to know that you can come talk to me in a free consultation, and we will get it all straightened out together.