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Which one should be filed first, bankruptcy or divorce?

On Behalf of | Jan 16, 2024 | Bankruptcy

The intersection of financial hardship and strained relationships often leads individuals to a critical juncture: the decision to file for bankruptcy and/or to file for divorce.

Financial troubles can strain even the strongest bonds. Communication is key during these challenging times. Partners should openly discuss their financial situation and marriage before jumping taking action. The order in which each of these legal remedies is filed can affect the future of all involved.

Bankruptcy before divorce

Since financial struggles often accumulate joint debts, filing for bankruptcy before divorce may allow a couple to discharge shared debts, providing a fresh start for both parties.

Bankruptcy can also streamline the asset division process when it’s time to file for divorce. By addressing financial issues first, couples may find it easier to divide their remaining assets during divorce proceedings. Furthermore, facing financial challenges together can foster cooperation. Successfully navigating bankruptcy may strengthen a couple’s ability to collaborate on divorce-related matters.

Divorce before bankruptcy

Initiating divorce proceedings before bankruptcy allows individuals to regain financial independence sooner, as some forms of bankruptcy take years to complete. For some, finalizing divorce before addressing financial matters also provides emotional closure, allowing individuals to focus more effectively on the financial challenges.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that untangling financial affairs after divorce may complicate asset division. This can lead to prolonged legal processes and potential disputes over asset ownership.

Filing for bankruptcy together before filing for divorce

One potential advantage of filing for bankruptcy together before spouses go their separate ways is the opportunity to address joint and individual debts efficiently. A joint bankruptcy petition would involve a couple filing one set of official bankruptcy paperwork that includes the financial information of both spouses.

Most divorcing couples choose to file for bankruptcy together because it’s more cost-efficient and minimizes challenges that must be addressed in divorce court.

That said, it’s crucial to remember that you’re not obligated to file for bankruptcy together if you’re a divorcing couple. Suppose one spouse needs bankruptcy protection more urgently than the other. Or suppose that domestic violence is an issue in the relationship. Filing for divorce first and then leaving the decision to file for bankruptcy up to the individual newly single former spouses is absolutely an option.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to filing for bankruptcy and divorce. The decision of how to address these two critical processes should be informed by the unique circumstances of each individual or couple. Communication, cooperation and legal counsel are vital in making informed choices that align with one’s financial and emotional well-being accordingly.

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