Chapter 7 & Income: Why Bankruptcy Before a Divorce Could be a Strategic Mistake

Options associated with bankruptcy bring many questions, as does divorce. To be experiencing these major life events at the same time can be extremely challenging, and you may be second-guessing yourself through much of the process. With an experienced bankruptcy attorney on your side, however, you should be able to make confident, educated decisions about the ‘when’ and ‘how’ of filing—whether for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

With just under half of most marriages ending in divorce in the US, many optimistic couples still take the plunge—envisioning a lifetime of creating a family and making memories together; unfortunately though, if the relationship goes south, too many of those memories could suddenly become engulfed by the trauma of divorce court and vicious battling over money. And for many, struggling over finances is nothing new. Handling a budget together can be one of the toughest parts of being committed to a partner, and while some grow together in learning how to handle discipline and decision-making in this area, others only become more distant.

Whether you are going through a difficult or amicable divorce, if one or both of you are planning on filing for divorce, you must time it correctly depending on your needs and realistic income for the future; for instance, if you need to file for Chapter 7, you may be ineligible with your married partner’s income figured in. This is a good argument for waiting to file for bankruptcy until after you are divorced and can produce tax returns showing your income as a single individual—potentially passing the means test in Georgia so that you can see your debts discharged in approximately six months, while also fending off potential issues like home foreclosure or repossession of your vehicle.

If you are considering filing for Chapter 13, again bankruptcy before divorce could be a mistake—or at the least, a huge, very long-term challenge. Due to the length of Chapter 13—three to five years—if you decided to proceed before your divorce, you are tied together that long. Getting divorced during Chapter 13 could tie up proceedings for both issues. Waiting until afterward means less exposure to a spouse you may not be wanting to communicate with frequently—but filing separately means more expense as you are not sharing attorneys and filing fees.

Each person’s individual circumstances are unique and must be considered in determining whether a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 is the best option for you and when to file a bankruptcy case. You probably have many questions about bankruptcy, from wondering how much you will have to sacrifice (very little in most cases), to whether you will have to go to court. Pre-planning may be in order also if you have a tax refund on the way or other assets that must be protected. Speak with a skilled bankruptcy attorney from the offices of H. Lehman Franklin, P.C. Call now to learn more at 912-764-9616, or contact us online.