The decision to end a marriage usually comes after months or years of emotional and financial stress. For this reason, once the divorce is imminent, it is often accompanied by several other problems. It can be overwhelming to think of tackling the legal and financial steps to proceed. If you have accumulated debt and have decided to explore bankruptcy, the question of which to do first – file for divorce or file for bankruptcy – often takes center stage. In many cases, the debt contributed to the divorce, making a fair, equitable arrangement difficult. This post will explore the options available to you and help you come up with a decision that best suits your particular situation.
Bankruptcy First Saves Money
When elements of both bankruptcy and divorce are considered, the logical course of action is to file for bankruptcy first, as a married couple. This helps both parties start to recover themselves financially before pursuing the divorce and it provides significant cost savings as well. Here are some reasons why this makes sense in most circumstances:
- As a married couple, you are only responsible for filing once for bankruptcy. Hence, there is only one court filing fee. If you wait until after the divorce is finalized, however, fees double because each person files separately.
- The same financial savings holds true for attorney fees. With joint bankruptcy filing, you will cut legal fees in half.
The Divorce Process
Those who choose to tackle bankruptcy first often find it makes the divorce process go much more smoothly. As most or all debt tends to be forgiven upon declaring bankruptcy, there is little to no debt to sort through and divide between divorcing spouses. This saves time, money, and stress in a situation that may have otherwise proven immensely challenging.
Financial instability and pressures can be a plague on even the healthiest marriage. If financial trouble is the main cause of a strained marriage, you may experience a shift in the relationship once the debt and financial insecurities have been addressed. To many couples, dealing with overwhelming debt feels like a weight off their shoulders. The potential for reconciliation increases and some couples choose to stay together.
A Word on Alimony and Child Support
While bankruptcy forgives many kinds of debt, it is important to understand that it will not release a person of “domestic support obligations.” Examples of these are alimony, child support, and maintenance support payments. It is a myth that waiting until a divorce is final to file for bankruptcy will absolve such obligations.
Beller & Bustamante – Serving Jacksonville’s Legal Needs
Both bankruptcy and divorce are serious matters that deserve thought, exploration, and discussion. Finding experienced, compassionate legal representation for both matters is critical to a smooth process. Mina Bustamante and Rebeccah Beller have built their practice on creating effective solutions for each unique situation. With extensive knowledge and courtroom experience, Beller & Bustamante, P.L. serve Duval and Putnam Counties, St. Augustine, Green Cove Springs, and Jacksonville. If you need assistance regarding bankruptcy and divorce, contact Beller & Bustamante for a consultation.