Bankruptcy and Divorce: Timing is Everything! Skip to main content

You are here

Bankruptcy and Divorce: Timing is Everything!


If you are facing both bankruptcy and divorce, you might be wondering whether you should file bankruptcy before or after obtaining a divorce.

In most cases, you should file bankruptcy before divorcing.  Especially if you earn more than your spouse!  If you don’t file bankruptcy before getting a divorce, you might wind up having to pay all of the debt you and your spouse incurred during your marriage!  Or you could end up paying more in child support and alimony to make up for your spouse’s debt.  Regardless of who earns more, wouldn’t it be better to get rid of your debt rather than fighting over who pays for it when you go to divorce court?  A chapter 7 bankruptcy can get rid of some, even all, of your debt before going through the divorce, and will make your divorce case much simpler.  You may not know yet what your life will be like after your divorce, but at least you will know that your debts have been handled.

If you’re not separated yet, you might consider waiting to file bankruptcy until you and your spouse are living in separate households.   Because you and your spouse’s combined living expenses will be higher, it will be easier for you to pass the chapter 7 means test.

What if you don’t want to file bankruptcy but your spouse does?  It’s probably in your best interest to go ahead and join the bankruptcy before getting your divorce.  If you don’t, and your soon-to-be ex gets his or her debt discharged in a bankruptcy after your divorce, the creditors will then come after you for all the debt you and your spouse incurred during your marriage!

Similarly, if your spouse stops paying on any shared debt after the two of you are divorced, you might get stuck with all of it!

Here’s another thing to think about.  Bankruptcy after divorce will cost more!  Only married people can file a joint bankruptcy. If you wait until after you're divorced, you will each have to file bankruptcy on your own. That means two filing fees and two lawyer fees!

Now, everyone’s situation is different, and no two bankruptcies or divorces are alike, so you’re going to want to speak with one of our qualified bankruptcy attorneys before you decide when to file bankruptcy.  You can reach the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt at or call us at +1-919-646-2654.

Debts Hurt! Got debt? Need help? Get started below!

What North Carolina County Do You Reside In?