Bankruptcy and Divorce: Answers to Five Commonly Asked Questions
People who are getting divorced have to face their financial situation head-on and often that causes them to think about bankruptcy. Here are the answers to the five questions that I am asked most frequently asked by my divorce clients about bankruptcy.
My wife has filed for divorce. We have a lot of debt. Neither of our attorneys is comfortable giving bankruptcy advice. Can the two of us go see the same bankruptcy attorney?
Yes. The bankruptcy attorney is not representing either of your in your divorce case and, barring any other conflicts, he can certainly represent both of you in a joint bankruptcy case.
My husband says that he will take all of our debt in our divorce and then discharge in bankruptcy. Will that affect me?
If you have joint debt, it absolutely will affect you. A bankruptcy case filed by one spouse confers no benefit on the other, unless the spouse pays the debt IN FULL under chapter 13. If your spouse files for bankruptcy and a joint debt is discharged, the creditor can, and probably will, pursue you. Even if your spouse does not default, the outstanding debt will still affect your credit rating.
We are currently going through a chapter 13 bankruptcy. Can we still get divorced?
Yes, but first your bankruptcy attorney will need to obtain court permission, (Relief from the Automatic Stay), then the divorce court has authority to enter a judgment.
My wife and I were divorced four years ago. In the divorce, she assumed responsibility for a car loan that we had both signed. She has no bankruptcy and stopped paying the car note, and that finance company is coming after me. What can I do?
You can file a Motion for Contempt in the divorce court and, hopefully, force your ex-wife to fulfill her obligation. You are also eligible to file bankruptcy yourself, assuming it is the right decision under your own financial circumstances.
My husband and I have a lot of joint debt and a lot of debt in each of our individual names. He does not want to file for bankruptcy and I do. I also want to be divorced. What should I do first?
If you do not have the resources to pay these debts as they come due, take steps to file now. Notify your husband of your decision and give him the opportunity to file a joint case with you. If you later file for divorce, be sure the court is aware that your husband had the opportunity to file a joint case with you, but declined to do so.
Lloyd M. Nolan
Attorney at Law
13321 North Outer Forty Road
Chesterfield, MO 63017
FAX (314) 725-1882
Lloyd Nolan has handles bankruptcy cases for more than 25 years. He offers free 30 minute consultations in either Clayton or Chesterfield.