the bankruptcy laws, “Domestic Support Obligations” arising out of
family support, divorce and support judgments, are NOT DISCHARGEABLE.
So are property settlement agreements, such as agreements in a divorce
to assume debts, although in Chapter 13 those can be discharged
sometimes. (Do your bankruptcy before you get obligated to pay debts
in a marital settlement agreement)
old way was to get a divorce and agree "each will pay their own
bills" or "husband agrees to pay certain debts". That
is nonsense: don't do it. Divorcing couples should think about
joint bankruptcy to eliminate who is going to pay debt as an issue in
includes not only dissolution of a marriage, but financial
settlements and obligations for things such as child support, alimony
or maintenance, attorney fees, and agreements to be responsible for
you have signed an agreement with a spouse to pay alimony and to be
responsible to pay debts, that agreement to pay debts may not be
dischargeable in bankruptcy. Because your ex-spouse was in need of
support, the agreement to pay her bills, or joint marital bills that
she was liable for, may be considered to be a debt to her in the
nature of support, and those debts are not dischargeable under
Federal bankruptcy law.
support, alimony, and property settlement obligations under divorce
judgments, especially if the other spouse could have gotten
maintenance or alimony instead of the promise by the other spouse to
pay certain debts, are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7.
if you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, and one of the
issues is, "Who will pay the debts?" A good answer to that
question might be: "No one." Why should either of you
pay them if there is no money to do so, when you could file a joint
Chapter 7 case and have no debt?
of arguing over who will pay it, solve the problem with a joint
bankruptcy. If your spouse will not agree, you can do a bankruptcy
without your spouse. Just because you are married, it does not mean
that you have to file a joint Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Once you have
gotten rid of your debt, your spouse may decide that it would be wise
to do the same thing, and you will have eliminated an important issue
in the divorce. The spouse could still ask the divorce court judge to
make you pay bills you have discharged in bankruptcy, but that is
very rare, especially if your spouse is working.
you have already agreed in a divorce decree to pay bills incurred
during the marriage, and the spouse you divorced is working and did
not need alimony, you may be able to discharge both your obligation
under the divorce decree, and your obligation to the creditors. Your
spouse may be considered just another judgment creditor. I have seen
many cases where both parties are working, yet one agrees to pay all
the debt just to settle the case. So, if you have already gotten a
bad deal in a divorce, you may be able to reverse it in a bankruptcy.
must get advice from an experienced bankruptcy attorney if these
issues are present in your situation, and no attorney can guarantee
the outcome when you are dealing with divorce judgments.
the rule is that child support, and debts which are in the nature of
alimony or maintenance, are not dischargeable. So are guardian ad
litem fees. The law is very complicated in this area, and depends on
the facts in each case.
you are involved in a divorce case, you should consult your divorce
lawyer first. Do not go to a bankruptcy lawyer without telling him or
her that you have a divorce lawyer. Some divorce attorneys are
familiar with bankruptcy law and can advise you, but I get a lot of
referrals from divorce attorneys who want me to represent their
clients in bankruptcies. Debts you agree to pay in a divorce survive
you are on speaking terms with your spouse, and even if you are not,
it may be to your advantage to do a bankruptcy before you get a
divorce. I seem to have a lot less trouble that way. The other spouse
is then encouraged to do a bankruptcy, instead of devoting their
efforts toward making you pay bills you obviously can't pay. A
divorce judge can order you to pay bills anyway, even after a
bankruptcy, but this is rarely done.
you have a judgment ordering you to pay bills incurred before a
divorce, it may or may not be something a bankruptcy can't help you
with, so, if at all possible, see the Law Offices of Peter Francis
Geraci before you have a divorce judgment. If you already have one,
bring it in. You need special advice regarding divorce and
bankruptcy, and must bring not only your bills, but your divorce
settlement and judgment to the bankruptcy lawyer.
Problem: Joe and
Elizabeth are getting divorced. They have no children, but they have
14 joint credit cards totaling over $16,000 in debt. Joe makes more money
than does Elizabeth, so she wants him to assume responsibility for
all the bills after the divorce. The payments are so high, however,
that Joe will not be able to keep up his car payment if he has to pay
all the credit cards.
Peter Francis Geraci Chapter 7 or 13 Solution: If they file
a joint bankruptcy just before they are divorced, neither
one will have to pay any bills and they will both start fresh.
Joe can keep making his car payment and keep his car.