I need Bankruptcy and Divorce- Which should I do first?

Divorce and bankrtupcy sometimes go hand in hand. If you are reading this, chances are that you are not in a good place right now in your marriage and finances. Don't despair, there is light at the end of the tunnel and remember, bankruptcy and divorce are just the legal means to ultimately get you to a different place than where you are at now. The decision as to whether to file for bankruptcy before or after a divorce, or to divorce first and then think about bankruptcy is important and can be complicated. There isn't a one size fits all answer and will depend on a number of factors including:

  • Does your spouse also need or want debt relief?
  • Has your spouse already initiated any legal proceedings?
  • Do you meet the residency requirements in Illinois for divorce and bankruptcy?
  • Do you have any prior bankruptcies?
  • Are your wages being garnished or are lawsuits pending against you?
  • How do you imagine the debt being divided at the time of your divorce?

When both spouses have too much debt in their own names and are both willing to do bankruptcy, it can make sense to file for bankruptcy first because it can be done jointly, often reducing legal fees and making it simpler for each of you (just think: one case instead of two). Once you are legally divorced, you can no longer do a joint case because ex-spouses must each file their own case with the bankruptcy court. This is just one scenario, but if you are thinking of doing both you should consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about both bankruptcy and divorce to discuss the specifics of your circumstances and get advice. 

If you live in the Chicago area and are considering bankruptcy and divorce, contact O'Connor Cadiz Law where we do both and know how one can affect the other. We can help you figure out if bankruptcy is right for you and if so, how the timing should be dealt with in the context of divorce. 


Carol O'Connor Cadiz
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Attorney & Owner at O'Connor Cadiz Law: Injury & Accidents, Disability Insurance.