What should you do if you need a divorce and bankruptcy protection?

Many divorces are caused by financial worries, which leads some people to think that they might need to file for both divorce and bankruptcy. If this is what you’re thinking right now, you should understand that bankruptcy and divorce cases typically can’t run at the same time. You’ll have to determine which case should be handled first. 

If you do file both at the same time, the divorce will likely take precedence. This is because the court will wait until the property division is finished. Once that’s done, the court can proceed with the bankruptcy. 

Typically, it’s best to wait to file bankruptcy until after the divorce is final because of the property division matters to your divorce. This enables you to take control of what’s going on. (The exception to this is if you won’t meet the qualifications to file for bankruptcy on your own because of your income or some other reason.) Sometimes, however, a couple may fare better, financially speaking, if they put their divorce on hold and handle the bankruptcy first. That may give you and your spouse more assets to split when the divorce is done — and less debt.

If you do have to file the bankruptcy before your divorce, remember that you’ll have to remain married for the duration of the bankruptcy. This is longer if you file a Chapter 13 than it is for a Chapter 7. For some couples, doing this isn’t possible.

Are you still uncertain about what to do? Discussing your situation with your attorney can help you to find out what option is better. Once you have this information, you can decide how to move forward with both cases in a way that helps to set you up in the best manner possible for your new life.