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When you found out that your spouse wanted a divorce, it devastated you. You thought you were a good match and never saw this coming.

After your initial reaction, you realized that you’re facing many difficult decisions. Although your spouse has a good job and is financially stable, you’re not in the same position. You’ve been looking for work and haven’t found anything that pays enough to live on. Now, there’s a real risk that you’ll lose everything.

Should you file for bankruptcy before you get a divorce?

You have debts, but with a good job, you may have better control over your finances without bankruptcy. If you go through bankruptcy, it could hurt your ability to buy a home or do other things you planned on in the future, at least for a few years.

If you’re not in an immediate financial crisis, it’s better to wait to file for bankruptcy until after the divorce. That way, you have time to negotiate throughout the divorce process. By the time it’s over, you may no longer be in a position where bankruptcy is the only choice you have. Depending on how you settle your debts with your spouse, you may find you have less debt than you think and a better chance of moving on without turning to bankruptcy for help.

Another thing to consider is that your spouse may have to pay alimony to you to support you while you find a job. In some cases, this support is enough to avoid bankruptcy altogether.

What do you do if you need to file for bankruptcy?

If you must file, it’s better to wait until after the divorce. Why? You’ll know more about your personal financial situation and the divorce will be over. If you file before you’re divorced, the automatic stay limits the court’s ability to split your assets. That means that your bankruptcy slows down your divorce, making it impossible until the bankruptcy finalizes. Not many people want to wait that long for a divorce, so the best option is to file well before you want a divorce or to wait until your divorce finalizes.

Once you file for bankruptcy, many of your debts may be dismissed. However, keep in mind that certain obligations, like child support, alimony, taxes and student debts, are unlikely to be discharged following any bankruptcy. You’ll still have to pay them in the majority of cases, even if you delay them for a time.