In many cases, finances can be a leading factor in the choice to get a divorce. Married couples might be faced with difficult financial challenges, such as the expenses related to serious health problems or the loss of income resulting from unemployment. If a marriage was already unsteady, or even if it was seemingly going well, disagreements over finances can often be the catalyst for the breakdown of the relationship. Depending on your financial situation as a married couple, you might be considering both divorce and bankruptcy. Since both of these are major life events and significant legal decisions, careful thought must be given to them, and the appropriate time must be chosen to proceed with each.
Reasons to File for Bankruptcy Before Divorce
If you and your spouse are on the same page about your finances, and you share the majority of the debt, filing a joint bankruptcy before beginning the divorce process might be the right move for you. Here are some reasons why you may choose this option:
Affordability—The cost of a joint bankruptcy filing and an individual bankruptcy filing are the same. If you two decide to file for bankruptcy separately when you are divorced, the process will be twice as expensive.
Paving the Way for a Smoother Divorce—There is a lot of overlap between bankruptcy and divorce proceedings, primarily because they both require an in-depth review of finances. If you plan on filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which can usually be finished in six months or less, this may allow you to resolve the majority of your debt-related issues, making the division of property much simpler.
The Possibility of Second Chances—Once you and your spouse receive the debt relief you need, you may realize that debt-related stress was one of the primary causes of marital discord. In that sense, by filing for bankruptcy first, you might be giving your marriage a second chance by granting yourselves extra time, including moments without the stress of crushing debt.
What About Bankruptcy After Divorce?
Overall, there are not as many benefits to filing for bankruptcy after you have completed your divorce. In general, when bankruptcy is filed after a divorce, it is in response to financial issues that occur as a result of the divorce itself. If one spouse is put at a financial disadvantage due to the divorce settlement, they may struggle to meet their needs while making any required support payment and addressing ongoing debts. In these cases, bankruptcy may be necessary to allow a person to discharge debts and receive a fresh start.
Can I File for Bankruptcy During Divorce?
In many cases, if one spouse files for bankruptcy during a divorce proceeding, they are looking to delay the divorce. This is because a bankruptcy causes an automatic stay of all state proceedings, including divorce, essentially freezing any developments on those cases until the bankruptcy is resolved. During your divorce, it is best to communicate with your spouse about your finances and make sure a potential bankruptcy filing will not cause problems during the divorce process.
The Limitations of Bankruptcy
Fortunately, bankruptcy does not put many of the most important terms agreed to through a divorce decree in jeopardy. In particular, obligations to pay child support or spousal maintenance cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. In addition, bankruptcy cannot discharge most tax bills, student loan debt, and some fees resulting from criminal penalties.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Divorce Lawyer
If you and your spouse are facing financial difficulties that are putting stress on your marriage, consider reaching out to a DuPage County bankruptcy and divorce attorney who has the experience and background to provide you with sound advice. Call the Andrew Cores Family Law Group Divorce at 630-871-1002 for a free consultation to discuss your options.