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Key considerations for bankruptcy during divorce

A divorce can be financially draining, and if people are already experiencing financial struggles, they may need financial relief. Some divorcees may see bankruptcy as a viable option.

For those considering bankruptcy during their divorce proceedings, there are a few considerations that are important in determining how to incorporate bankruptcy in a divorce.

Type

Filers may choose between a Chapter 7 and a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Though both types help people to eliminate debt, they utilize very different means. Chapter 7 bankruptcy is for debtors with low income and little to no assets. The bankruptcy trustee sells the debtors' nonexempt assets to help pay off the outstanding debts, and any remaining debts are forgiven. On the other hand, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy allows debtors to maintain their assets and pay off debts with a repayment plan. Debtors' income levels play a large part in determining which type of bankruptcy is available to them.

Filing status

Along with the type of bankruptcy, it is important for ex-spouses to understand the effects of choosing a joint or sole filing status. A few different characteristics can help to determine which choice is best, such as the following:

  • Number of assets
  • Amount of shared debt
  • Exemption status

If a couple has a large amount of assets and share quite a bit of marital property, then a joint filing may be most beneficial. Filing together allows them to double their exemptions and maintain more assets. However, if the couple has a few assets and marital property, and one party owes most of the debt, a single filing may work. In order to understand how bankruptcy will fully affect certain assets, it is important that filers understand marital property rights.

By keeping these things in mind, people can make the best decision for their situation. For those with additional questions, it may be helpful to consult with a knowledgeable attorney.

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