Bankruptcy is the legal process by which an individual or a married couple can discharge eligible debts, or obtain a court order that you do not have to pay one or more particular debts. This is often a solution when a couple has accrued substantial amounts of debt that they really cannot repay. In many cases, especially if a married couple is completely overwhelmed by significant debts that neither one will be able to repay on his or her own. A couple who is still married can file a joint bankruptcy petition without continuing to live together or really have any contact with one another, so long as they still are legally married. It also can be cheaper to file a joint bankruptcy petition and can make it much easier to settle the financial aspects of your divorce.
If one spouse files for bankruptcy on his or her own, all community property belonging to the spouses is available to pay the community debts. Plus, the other spouse still can be held responsible for any community debts, even though he or she has fewer community assets with which to pay the community debts. This is also the case if your spouse files for bankruptcy after your divorce is finalized. For instance, suppose that you and your spouse have a joint vehicle loan. In the divorce, your spouse agrees or is ordered to pay the loan balance, as he or she also will be keeping the vehicle that is secured by the loan. If your spouse then files for bankruptcy following the divorce, then you still could be responsible for the joint vehicle loan.
On the other hand, if you had a relatively short marriage and your husband has a great deal of separate debt or non-dischargeable debts such as student loans, it may not be beneficial to you to file for bankruptcy jointly with your spouse. This also is the case if you have fairly low levels of community debt and you have sufficient income or assets to pay the debts.
We know how bankruptcies work and how they impact your divorce case. Contact Pacific Northwest Family Lawtoday and we will show you how we can help with your Washington divorce case and handle any issues that your bankruptcy raises. Our attorneys focus their practice primarily on divorce and family law, so we are sure to have the skills that you need for proper representation in your divorce case. We are here to answer all of your questions, calm your concerns, and help you through the often difficult process of contested divorce and family law cases.