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What Comes First, Bankruptcy or Divorce?

Let’s face it, money problems are a major stressor in a marriage. When a couple faces substantial financial hardship, often a divorce filing is not far behind.

 So if you find yourself in this difficult position the question becomes, which do you file first, the bankruptcy or the divorce?

 The bottom line is that both spouses are liable for the debts that were incurred during their marriage. If you get a divorce first, the family law judge will likely divide up the debt between you and your spouse. Bear in mind however, this has nothing to do with your creditors. If your spouse decides not to pay his or her share of the debt, the creditors can still come after the other spouse for payment.

 Because of this, it is often recommended that you and your spouse jointly file for bankruptcy first. This will clarify where each spouse stands in terms of debts prior to going into divorce proceedings, and can also help simplify the divorce process. Also because bankruptcy is thought of as a fresh start, both spouses will end up having more money available for living separately, and paying spousal support and alimony if that is required.

 Filing for bankruptcy first will also be helpful due to the automatic stay provision in bankruptcy. This means that once the bankruptcy is filed, creditors will be prohibited from collecting on any debt. This will help give you a financial breather so things can be stabilized and assets will be protected prior to going into divorce proceedings.

 Bankruptcy first will also protect you from collection efforts after the divorce. In a divorce, both assets and marital debts are divided. If your ex-spouse does not pay his or her portion of the debt, creditors can come after you. Clearing this debt prior to divorce will alleviate this problem.

 Each couple’s situation is unique, so it is important to speak with an experienced bankruptcy lawyer so that they can determine which course of action is best for you, including when to file for bankruptcy as well as whether a Chapter 7 or 13 best suits your needs. These questions can only be properly answered through a consultation with a lawyer.

Once these matters are resolved, we can assist with a referral to one of several caring and fair-minded divorce lawyers who inexpensively, can help you with the remaining issues.

 Attorney Paul M. Allen and his staff are passionate about helping people achieve the best possible result. Give us a call. Consultations are free. What have you got to lose. We have two convenient located offices to serve you. Glendale (818) 334-5445, and Cerritos(562) 356-9931. Call for an appointment today.

(This article is for information purposes only, and does not necessary reflect the company’s opinions and views on general issues. We make no warranty, prediction nor representation, nor do we assume any legal liability for the completeness of any information and its effect on any case. Each case is different and results depend on the facts of each case. Consult with and retain counsel of your own choice if you need legal advice.)

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