Divorce and Bankruptcy
There are many areas where divorce and bankruptcy intersect. Most people only think of these in relation to what debts they cannot discharge. Most people understand that domestic support obligations, like child support and alimony cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy. However, they often don’t consider how a bankruptcy could make their divorce go more smoothly.
In the past, divorce for many related to two basic things (1) who gets the kids (the other parent paying support) and (2) division of property (i.e., who gets the house, pension, cars, bank accounts, etc.). However, these days, while the issues involving the kids are still present, many people do not have a great deal of property to divide during a divorce. Instead of fighting about who gets the house, pension, cars and Aunt Martha’s dishes, many couples fight about who gets the debt they have accumulated during the marriage.
Often, most of the credit cards and other loans will appear only in one spouse’s name. But usually there will be a fight about who actually ran up that debt and for what purpose (i.e., “my wife ran up the credit cards on shoes” or “my husband spent thousands of dollars on golf clubs”). What most people may not understand is that the divorce court has the equitable power to tell the spouse who does not have the debt in their name that they are responsible for a portion of that debt too. So how can the bankruptcy help the divorce? The answer is simple, eliminate the debt and with it the fight about who should pay.
Some might ask, “Why should I file bankruptcy with my soon to be ex? Shouldn’t we just do it on our own?” The answer to that question is also simple. It costs less to file bankruptcy together. As a married couple (even though you may be separated), you can file one petition. That means one attorney’s fee, one court filing fee, etc. By filing together, the divorcing couple will not only save a lot of money on the bankruptcy, but also save on attorney’s fees related to the divorce. By eliminating the fight, the divorce goes quicker and costs less. Bankruptcy is often one of the last things divorcing couple will do together.
For those couples who simply cannot be in the same room together, do not fear, we can see you separately for most of the meetings.