How will filing for bankruptcy by one spouse affect the other during a divorce

Asked almost 6 years ago - Chicago, IL

My friend just filed for divorce. She and her husband have been separated since last December and he is living in their old house. She has her own house now. She is still on the old house that was on the market until the husband pulled it off and moved back in with the girl he cheated on her with. My friend and her husband have to minor children that she has not received a penny in child support for. After he was served with the papers, he called her and told her if she didn't agree to everything he wanted in the divorce he would file bankruptcy and destroy her credit, because everyone would come after her then- for the house, vehicles, etc. Can he do that??? Is there anything that can be done to stop him???

Additional information

I am going through a simular situation. My husband moved out and I filed for divorce and bankrupcy per my attorney. About a month after I did this, my attorney told me my husband had to file with me or when we go into divorce court, even if the bankrupcy court dismisses me on our debt, his lawyer could ask the judge for me to pay my husband 1/2 of the debt that was left to him. This is in the state of nebraska. We can not do bankrupcy together due to our income. I am able to by myself but he is not unless one of our kids move in with him. Due to the situation, my children refuse to and I can not force them due to the alcholism, his affair living with him and the boys counselor and my said that the children would be at risk and they are just starting to come back from where they where. I had one attempt suidcide due to his father abanding them. He has been gone for 9 months and has only spent 45 hours with them. He does not call them and only text them about every two weeks when he is wasted.

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Mazyar Malek Hedayat

    Contributor Level 13


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Your question deals with 2 main issues

    a) Can your friend's, soon to be, ex file bankruptcy and leave her with debts? Short Answer: Yes
    b) Can your friend do anything to stop this from happening if it is a possibility? Short Answer: No

    But there is hope. Just tell your friend to remember this: Bankruptcy and Divorce often lien at the opposite poles of the law. To see this difference in action, let's consider how these courts handle assets and liabilities.

    In a divorce action courts are primarily concerned with preserving the unity of the couple or family. Judges have wide-ranging (often too wide-ranging) powers to ignore who owns what and simply take from one side to balance the other. This means a divorce court judge may require your friend's husband to give up property like the house so that his wife and children can live there, or require the husband to pay the couple's debts even if they were in the name of both husband and wife.

    In a bankruptcy action the opposite is true - each party is responsible for their own assets and liabilities: there is no fuzziness when it comes to who must pay. If your friend and her husband incurred debts together like the mortgage on the home, credit cards, car payments, etc., then if one drops out due to bankruptcy the other gets stuck with the bill (so to speak). That's it. No special considerations for being a couple, no special treatment due to hardship or tough circumstances. But remember, this means that your friend can file too and leave her husband stuck with the obligations.

    But here is your friend's trump card - obligations imposed by a divorce action (alimony, child support, property settlements) CANNOT BE DISCHARGED IN BANKRUPTCY. That means once your friend gets the divorce judge to rule in her favor as to what she must get from the husband, she is bulletproof (if he pays - if he doesn't he can go to jail, and most people respond to that).

    I hope this information has been helpful. Feel free to contact our office with any questions or follow up.

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