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Divorce and Bankruptcy

Are you facing a potential double whammy – divorce and bankruptcy? Many people cite divorce as a leading reason for bankruptcy filings, and others indicate that bankruptcy or financial issues are a leading reason for the divorce. So, as you can see, there are many instances where divorce and bankruptcy are not only interrelated but also intertwined. Let’s take a look at things to consider, such as which should happen first and why.

Which to File First?

There is a common question we are asked here at Levine Law. Which should I file for first, divorce or bankruptcy? While you are smart not to file for both simultaneously, there are many factors that you should take into consideration before deciding whether to file for bankruptcy or divorce first. (Keep in mind that we suggest talking to an attorney who can look at all the factors before making a final decision.)

Determining whether you should file for bankruptcy before or after a divorce depends on where you live, how much property and debt you have, and which chapter of bankruptcy you wish to file. For example, one of the most hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings is the division of property and assets, but few couples consider what will happen to their debt if they decide to go separate ways. Therefore, it is fairly common for couples to choose to file for bankruptcy before divorce so they can sort out the financial situation before any divorce proceedings move forward.

Type of Bankruptcy

Choosing whether to file for bankruptcy or divorce first may depend upon the type of bankruptcy you are petitioning for. If your bankruptcy is a simple Chapter 7 bankruptcy, then filing it before your divorce may be the best option. Since Chapter 7 bankruptcy can be filed and completed in just several months, there’s no reason you and your spouse can’t file jointly, discharge your debts, and then divorce afterward.

However, if you’re filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, where the debt will be repaid over the course of 3-5 years you may need to rethink that scenario. If you plan to divorce during that time, you may need to have the bankruptcy case separated. That can get a bit complicated when deciding who pays back which debt(s).

Household Income

Filing for bankruptcy jointly means that the bankruptcy will take into account your combined earnings. That may mean that your income may be too high to qualify for Chapter 7 and pushes you toward Chapter 13. Having a bankruptcy attorney work out the number in both scenarios may be a good idea.


Talk to a bankruptcy attorney to determine the value of assets and how they would be protected in a filing prior to divorce versus after a divorce. Determine if filing a joint bankruptcy with your spouse could give you extra protection in the form of double exemptions.

Are you facing a double whammy and need help sorting out which court case to proceed with first? Call the Law Office of Barry R. Levine and let us help you. Call us at 978-922-8440, or visit our website at