Should I File for Divorce or Bankruptcy First?

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What to consider when deciding whether to file for divorce or bankruptcy first

Marriage problems and debt can be two sides of the same coin. While serious financial issues can stress a marriage and trigger the need for divorce, so too can divorce create financial stresses, creating the need to file for bankruptcy in order to get out from under overwhelming debt.

When divorce and bankruptcy are on your horizon, knowing which case to pursue first can be tricky – and making the right choice can be integral to setting yourself up for success in the next chapter of your life.

Revealing more about the issues to consider when divorce and bankruptcy are impending, the following provides some important answers to commonly asked questions about filing for divorce before or after bankruptcy.

When you are ready to receive more answers pertaining to your circumstances and specific needs, contact Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Karen Schoenau. She is here for you, ready to help.

Filing for Divorce Before or After Bankruptcy: FAQs Q – What are the Benefits to Filing for Divorce Before Bankruptcy?

A – It depends on your circumstances, but generally, some of the advantages that can be realized when pursuing divorce before a bankruptcy case can include (and are not necessarily limited to):

  • Possibly qualifying for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (as only your income will be counted in the means test, as opposed to both you and your ex’s income if you pursued a joint bankruptcy case)
  • Not having to deal with your ex during the bankruptcy case (which may be a big deal if you and your ex cannot interact on civil terms or you need to pursue a Chapter 13 case that can take years to resolve).
Q – What are the Possible Downsides to Filing for Divorce Before Bankruptcy?

A – Generally, some potential disadvantages to pursuing divorce prior to bankruptcy can be that:

  • The divorce takes longer to resolve, as all of the debt will have to be divided as part of the division of marital property
  • The divorce ends up costing more (if its drawn out because of property division issues)
  • The debt continues to mount during the course of the divorce, potentially putting people in the position to be sued by creditors, have their wages garnished, and/or have their assets repossessed.
Q – What are the Benefits to Filing for Bankruptcy Prior to Divorce?

A – In general, some of the advantages that may be enjoyed when filing for bankruptcy before filing for divorce can include that:

  • The divorce takes far less time (and money) to resolve, as the property division aspect of the case can usually proceed quickly/relatively easily (because the bankruptcy has resolved the debt issues)
  • Couples won’t have to worry about their debt continuing to snowball during their divorce.
Q – What are the Possible Downsides to Filing for Bankruptcy Prior to Divorce?

A – In general, some of the potential disadvantages to pursuing bankruptcy before a divorce case can include that:

  • You will be forced to deal with your ex through the course of the bankruptcy case. If you’re pursuing a Chapter 13 case, this can mean that your divorce is put off for months – if not years.
  • You will not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy because both your and your spouse’s income will be used in the means test.
The Bottom Line: Talk to a Lawyer

When divorce and bankruptcy are needed, the best thing to do is to consult with an experienced lawyer who can carefully review the details of your situation and advice you on your best options.

Contact Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Karen A. Schoenau

When you need effective representation in divorce, contact Scottsdale Divorce Attorney Karen Schoenau. Since 1987, Karen Schoenau has been helping people successfully resolve various important family law matters, including cases related to divorce, custody, paternity and other issues.

Call 480-209-1918 or email us via the contact form on this page to set up an initial consultation with Attorney Karen Schoenau and get honest answers about your best options for moving forward with divorce.

From offices based in Scottsdale, Attorney Karen Schoenau represents clients throughout the metropolitan Scottsdale area, including in Scottsdale, Mesa, Surprise, Maricopa County, Pinal County, Gila County and throughout the state of Arizona.

Client Reviews
Karen is highly respected in the legal community. She is effective and thorough. Karen just keeps going regardless of the odds.
Karen was extremely helpful setting up my petition for conciliation. She is by far the most knowledgeable attorney regarding the necessary paperwork, how to file the petition and where it has to be submitted. She listened intently when I was describing my situation and intentions. She was very responsive to my questions and request. She is trustworthy and diligent . I would recommend her to anyone having marital issues. Mark
Very high customer/client considerate. We found Karen when we were forced to leave another Phoenix lawyer due to his bad advice and lack of interest to help us. We were in Phoenix for six days from Michigan with nothing happening but a high wasted expense. Karen and her firm took us in and solved our issue with the courts etc. in two and a half days. Karen’s professionalism with us was very cost effective/productive. If we would have found her first, we would have saved thousands of dollars. Her interest for us was very high. She returned every call. She knew every answer to our questions. She did this for us with a death in her family. She left for a funeral and made sure we were treated with the same professionalism from her firm to finish up. I recommend Karen and her firm with very high satisfaction. Our case is custody with one parent in prison. We will return to Phoenix someday with interests for the child and his parent, if needed. Karen will be our top choice. Nolan
Karen and Bonita are wonderful!! I know that the word "wonderful" is used a lot, but the team they make and the work they did for me can only be described as WONDERFUL!! Yes there where ups and downs in my case, but that is the system and Karen along with Bonita guided and taught me as "WE" went through it together. Karen’s easy going manner and her knowledge really helped me with the emotional part of my divorce. I used the team of Karen and Bonita both times I needed to go to court with my ex and had results that were best for my little girl. Some times I did not get what I wanted, but it was what my daughter needed. Looking back at my case, I made the right choice and would do it again in a heart beat!! Jim
Karen was extremely supportive during a very trying time in our lives. She helped me to put things in perspective and think positive when I was overwhelmed. She is very knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to grandparents rights and the rights of the parents and knew how to provide the appropriate laws pertaining to the situation we were in. I am so grateful for her expertise and guidance. She proved to be very aggressive when she needed to be but was also supportive to my and my children. I would recommend her to anyone in a similar situation. Deanna