Los Angeles Bankruptcy During Divorce Lawyers
Many people contemplate bankruptcy when they decide to get divorced. This is often the first time they really sit down and look at their finances, along with their debts, and many don’t like what they see. Living on one income will present many challenges when you are single, and servicing a heavy debt load might be impossible. For some couples, a bankruptcy filing will help them obtain a fresh financial start.
Which should you file first: bankruptcy or divorce? Or should you file them at the same time? These are some of the most common questions people have about the process. Please contact Wadhwani & Shanfeld to talk about your case with an experienced Los Angeles bankruptcy during divorce lawyers.
Understand the Timing of Bankruptcy and Divorce
You need to think carefully about when to file for bankruptcy. Here are your options:
File Jointly Before or During Divorce
You can file jointly until a judge enters a divorce decree, after which you need to file separately. If you file jointly, it’s less expensive. You can also wipe out certain debts, like overdue utility bills, credit cards, and personal loans. That means you don’t need to divide them in the divorce. However, the bankruptcy case will stay the division of any assets, at least temporarily, so you cannot complete your divorce until your bankruptcy is completed. The good news is that a Chapter 7 bankruptcy only takes around 4-5 months.
There are disadvantages to filing jointly. To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you will need to pass a “means test” which looks at how much disposable income you have. If you are still living together, your income gets pooled, and some people don’t qualify. If you wait to file after divorce, your income will likely be much lower, and you might finally qualify for Chapter 7.
File on Your own after Divorce
There are advantages to filing after you complete your divorce. For one, you are probably living in your own household, so you are more likely to pass the Chapter 7 means test.
You might also file after divorce if you want to discharge a property settlement agreement. You would need to use a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, which takes 3-5 years of regular payments to complete. For example, your settlement agreement might give you a disproportionate amount of marital property, and you agree to pay back your spouse over time. Discharging that type of agreement could work to your benefit and is one reason to meet with a bankruptcy lawyer before you file while married.
Unfortunately, you shouldn’t file after divorce to eliminate family support orders like child support or alimony. Those are not considered dischargeable debts in bankruptcy, so you can’t get rid of them, no matter how burdensome they are.
Contact Us for More Information
Financial issues complicate many divorces, but you owe it to yourself to leave your marriage in the strongest financial position possible. Call Wadhwani & Shanfeld today to speak with our Los Angeles bankruptcy and divorce lawyer.