Those who have been through it will tell you that divorce can be expensive. In Florida, marital property is distributed equitably between the spouses, and “equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean “equal.” It is possible that one spouse will come away with more assets or heavier debts than the other spouse, and this can be a particularly complex situation if the debt is heavy enough to require bankruptcy.
However, if the two parties are amenable to it, a joint bankruptcy can be filed to avoid having to file a second one later. This may be the best approach if the incurred debt belongs to both parties and not just one. In any case, divorcing spouses with heavy debt would be wise to speak with an attorney with experience in individual and joint bankruptcy filings.
Sometimes divorced parents have concerns about child support and whether child support debt can be discharged in bankruptcy. While the Bankruptcy Code regards child support and alimony as non-dischargeable debts, it may still be possible to restructure or discharge other debts in order to alleviate some of the burden of child support payments.
For example, discharging unsecured debts, such as medical payments and credit card debt, can help parents get back on firm financial ground and begin catching up on support payments. It may also be possible to have a child support order modified if a paying parent’s financial situation has changed for the worse.
Another concern some people have is whether they can be held responsible for their spouse’s individual debt. In theory, a bankruptcy filed by only one spouse will not affect the financial obligations of the other spouse. Still, the non-filing spouse will have to submit financial information to determine if the filing spouse is eligible for bankruptcy protection.
If you would like to learn more about debt relief in Florida, our pages on bankruptcy are a good place to start.
Source: nj.com, “Your Legal Corner: Equitable distribution and bankruptcy,” Victoria M. Dalton, Nov. 24, 2013