Bankruptcy and Divorce in Jacksonville, Florida
For those of you who may be considering bankruptcy, here is a word of caution if you also may be involved in a divorce. First let me qualify my remarks and state that while I am a Florida Bar Board Certified Divorce lawyer in Jacksonville, Florida; I do not practice bankruptcy law. Unlike some other lawyers who dabble a little in each area of law, I focus exclusively on divorce and family law. Sometimes the two areas of law meet and that is when your lawyer needs to be prepared. You should consult with a bankruptcy expert, preferably a board certified bankruptcy lawyer here in Jacksonville about the specifics of your bankruptcy. Sometimes people think that if things do not go well for them in a divorce, they will "just file bankruptcy". You should be aware that recent changes to the United States Bankruptcy Code have made it very difficult, if not impossible, to discharge any debts or obligations contained in your divorce judgment. You can read the exceptions to discharge in the Bankruptcy Code here.
Before the change to the Code, usually only support debts were non-dischargeable by the Bankruptcy Court. That means that you still had to pay them, even if you went bankrupt. Support debts usually meant alimony, child support, and sometimes attorney fees. While somewhat complicated for the lay person to understand (many divorce lawyers do not know this either), if you agree to pay something in a divorce, a bankruptcy judge can deny your bankruptcy with regard to the debt to your spouse, a joint debt with your spouse, or even a debt just in your name. How is that fair? Let me explain to you what used to happen. Wife agrees that Husband does not have to pay alimony because he is going to pay the large amount of credit card debt of the parties that is on Husband's credit cards. Parties get divorced, Wife gets no alimony, and then Husband goes bankrupt and so does not pay alimony or the credit cards he said he was going to pay. Husband emerges from the divorce a winner and Wife waived something that she should not have waived. In another example, Husband accepts an offer to pay alimony because he is going to bankrupt the marital home and his credit cards so he can pay the Wife her money. If the divorce judgment is not worded properly, Husband ends up paying alimony and stuck with all the debt that the bankruptcy judge will not let him out of because he agreed in his divorce to pay it.
The moral of this story is that you at least should consult with a Florida Bar Board Certified Divorce lawyer before reaching an agreement or finalizing your divorce. I am here to help and offer a free consultation. If you try to do your divorce on your own or hire a "rookie" lawyer, you are going to end up like the person in my second example: "up the creek without a paddle". My office will work with you to understand your goals and explain to you your options. My office also will craft carefully your final divorce papers so that if you contemplate filing a bankruptcy after divorce, your judgment will give you flexibility with the Bankruptcy Court.