Divorce & Bankruptcy
Which Comes First?
As you are likely well aware, divorce is as much of a financial investment as it is an emotional one. If you are contemplating filing for divorce and bankruptcy, it's important to know that the timing can be critical to the outcome of your divorce proceedings.
As the founder of Charles E. Willmott, P.A., I am a Board Certified divorce attorney with over nearly 25 years of experience handling all types of divorce cases. I am also BV® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and I served as chairman of the Jacksonville Bar Family Law Section from 2003 to 2010.
When you choose to work with me, you are working with an attorney who has dealt with countless clients who were filing for bankruptcy and divorce, and I am confident that I can help you ensure that your timing is right.
Bankruptcy and Divorce Can Affect Each Other
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and divorce, you will need to determine if it makes sense to file bankruptcy before or after your divorce. If you are thinking about filing for both, you are not alone. Financial problems are one of the major leading causes of divorce, and many splitting couples don't have the means to pay their debts, especially after they split up and are supporting not one but two households.
Filing for divorce during the bankruptcy process can be a problem because the distribution of assets and liabilities are delayed until the bankruptcy is discharged. In other words, many people are advised to wait to file for divorce until after they have finished their bankruptcy.
If you and your spouse are on good terms, you may want to consider filing bankruptcy before your divorce. This allows you to wipe out your joint debts and it may also increase the exemption amounts. If you qualify under a Chapter 7, then you should be finished in 90 to 120 days. If you have a lot of unsecured debt such as credit cards or medical bills, it can take away the fight over who pays the debts.
Keep in mind that if you and your spouse elect to file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, not only are you both responsible for the Chapter 13 repayment plan, but you may be prevented from dividing assets by sale.
Should I file for divorce first?
If your income is too high to qualify under a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and you only qualify for a Chapter 13, which takes 3 to 5 years to complete, it might make more sense to file for divorce first. For example, if your spouse earns a lot more than you, after the divorce you may qualify for a Chapter 7 to wipe out unsecured debt that is only in your name without the need for a Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Divorcing before filing for bankruptcy may allow for support considerations. For instance, if you are ordered to pay a lot of alimony, that support obligation can affect your bankruptcy proceedings. Nothing is worse than being put on a Chapter 13 bankruptcy repayment plan based on income that you no longer have access to.
Schedule a Consultation with a Jacksonville Divorce Attorney
As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I take a personal interest in each of my client's cases and I care about how their divorce will affect all aspects of their life. Experience has taught me that a lot of my clients file for divorce because money troubles caused too much stress in the marriage. If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy and divorce, I can help you determine if it would be better to file for divorce before or after bankruptcy.
Contact Charles E. Willmott, P.A. to schedule your initial consultation by calling (904) 849-5183.