Bankruptcy; Before of After Divorce
There is no question financial issues can create marital stress that often leads to divorce. Some individuals elect to file for bankruptcy protection at the same time they file for divorce in an effort to make a fresh financial start. Bankruptcy during a divorce in Nevada, however, can significantly impact and even slow down the divorce process. Couples may choose to file for bankruptcy jointly or separately.
You may be eligible to file for bankruptcy in Nevada under chapter 7, also known as “straight” bankruptcy, or chapter 13, known as “reorganization” bankruptcy. Chapter 7 entails the liquidation of your assets in exchange for the elimination of your debt. In general, under federal bankruptcy law, filers are entitled to keep certain exempt property such as a home and vehicle. Under chapter 13, your debts are reorganized, and you are required to pay off a specified amount of your debt over a three- to five-year period.
In general, financial obligations related to divorce such as alimony, maintenance or child support are not considered dischargeable under bankruptcy law, meaning you are still required to make any payments as mandated by the divorce decree. Under 11 U.S.C. Section 523(a)(15), there are certain situations in which these obligations may be discharged.
While every case is different, there are some fairly typical scenarios involving bankruptcy during divorce:
- The spouses mutually agree upon the terms of the divorce and agree to file for bankruptcy jointly. In this case, all eligible community debt, which is debt acquired during the marriage, and separate debt, which each spouse brings into the marriage, is discharged in accordance with bankruptcy law. This is usually the more desirable scenario, as it simplifies and helps to speed up the divorce process. The couple may also choose to file for bankruptcy and have the case resolved before filing for divorce to simplify the ensuing divorce process even further.
- The spouses cannot agree on the division of property and debt, electing to file for bankruptcy separately, or only one spouse chooses to file. If this situation occurs, the divorce process is likely to be put on hold until the bankruptcy is resolved in federal bankruptcy court. Sometimes, in contentious divorce situations, the better alternative may be to wait until the divorce is settled and finalized before filing for bankruptcy. This allows each party to know exactly where they stand in terms of the property and debt they will own, which can ultimately help them determine whether filing for bankruptcy is truly in their best long-term interests.
Because of the many complications that bankruptcy can bring to a divorce, the prudent course of action may be to consult with an experienced Las Vegas divorce attorney. If the prospect of divorce and bankruptcy looms in your future, call RIGHT Lawyers at (702) 914-0400 for an initial consultation or contact us today.