As most will attest, marriage and money can be a complex combination. When you got married, you and your spouse likely merged finances with a positive outlook, looking forward to all the benefits of a strong partnership. As the years pass though, there are inevitable challenges which must be weathered together-and finances are often connected to them in one way or another.
Marriage & Money Are Deeply Tied
Depending on the circumstances, financial difficulties may take a serious toll on you-and your marriage. And while in the beginning you may have found yourselves bickering over money due to a difference in values or communication styles, if you are now out of options and must file for bankruptcy and have decided to divorce, it is it is important to have a plan that will offer the best future for both of you, as well as any dependents.
Many circumstances, often beyond your control, can lead to bankruptcy. Your finances could be in perfectly good shape until an illness or accident occurs, preventing you from working, and causing the bills to pile up. Divorce is often a precursor to bankruptcy too. If you are already embroiled in the process or have just completed a divorce, you may be finding that legal fees and arriving at a ‘fair’ settlement have left you with no option but to file for either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.
Filing for Bankruptcy Together May Be the Best Route
Sometimes, unfortunately, you may find yourself facing bankruptcy and divorce simultaneously. It is a good idea, if possible, for both spouses to work together, and determine the best strategy for handling the impending bankruptcy. The most prudent move may be to file together beforehand, requiring only one bankruptcy attorney, allowing you to save money and avoid filing two separate cases later. Obviously, communication may be strained, but if you can both put your differences aside long enough to get through the bankruptcy, you will benefit in the end.
Consider Whether the Timing is Realistic
Timing may be on your side in filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy if you can hold off on filing for divorce for three to six months-the amount of time it generally takes for the debts to be discharged. It is possible that your income while married may be too high to qualify for Chapter 7. You might become eligible to file Chapter 7 once you are divorced and relying solely on your income. In that case, you may want to wait to file.
Chapter 13 presents more obviously difficulties for a divorcing couple due to the time constraints involved. In most cases, filing for a joint bankruptcy that will last for the next three to five years will not be possible.
Seek Legal Help Regarding Bankruptcy & Divorce
Deciding how to proceed in filing for bankruptcy if you are divorcing can be complex, and you should seek expert legal advice before moving forward. If you and your current spouse are concerned about your combined debt and want to reorganize before moving on to divorce, contact the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Levitt & Slafkes, P.C.