Your husband, wife or partner just left. You are in a state of panic. A big part of your household income just waltzed out the door. If not that, then the person who cares for the kids while you are working left you high and dry.
Is bankruptcy your next step? Many people in this situation come to me first to start the process of sorting things out. A bankruptcy attorney may very well be a part of the solution, especially if you have no children and are hopelessly mired in debt you both ran up with no hope of paying it on your own. Sure a divorce judge might order them to pay their share, but that takes time and lots of money, two luxuries you don’t have at this moment. If you aren’t married, divorce court is out anyway.
If you have minor children, your first order of business is a child support order. You don’t need an attorney for this. Make an appointment with your county support enforcement agency. Initially they can issue an administrative order for support. It is the quickest way to get some money flowing in to help take the edge off feeding and clothing the kids. You goal is keeping the ship afloat. Don’t worry about the bills now. I am referring to the unsecured bills, things like credit cards and doctor bills. You need to concentrate on food, rent, mortgage and utility bills. If you have a car loan that might be essential as well.
The Bankruptcy Option
Child support will help, but it will not replace the lost household income. Eventually the bills you are putting off will come back to haunt you. When this happens filing bankruptcy is a tool that will soften your landing and allow you to move forward without being dragged down by debt run up by the ex.
When to File Bankruptcy
File when you are still single, before you are hired for that high paying job, or remarried. When you are single, living alone, or working at a low paying job, you are a prime candidate. If you are separated, you can file bankruptcy without your separated spouse being involved. All too often I see women who are remarried and a debt from their former spouse rises from the ashes. Had they filed bankruptcy before remarrying the debt would have been discharged, no problem! Now the new husband’s high household income disqualifies her from filing for chapter 7 bankruptcy relief. He is unlikely to want to squander his treasure paying for his wife’s ex’s unpaid bills in chapter 13 reorganization.
When you are left high and dry by your spouse or live-in partner bankruptcy is a valid option to allow you to move forward. It might not be the first priority, especially if there are children. Bills created by two people with two incomes are very difficult and unfair to pay with one income. The key is to put a plan in place, carry it out, but don’t wait too long if bankruptcy is a one of your options on the road back.