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What to know about bankruptcy after divorce

Divorce has a significant impact on finances. Court fees, legal bills and new expenses from living separately all add up. While maintaining a strict budget is helpful, it may not be enough. You may have taken up a second job in order to stay afloat. Soon you may find yourself in so much debt after a divorce that you are considering bankruptcy

On the other hand, perhaps you see your ex floundering financially. You are uncertain what will happen if he or she goes bankrupt. Whichever end you are on, how does one ex-spouse filing for bankruptcy affect the other?

Support payments

If you are worried about losing child or spousal support if your ex files for bankruptcy, you can relax. Those payments are not eligible for discharge. If you are the one who pays, know you will still have that obligation despite declaring bankruptcy. However, you can file for a modification of the amount due to financial hardship. 

Any informal payment arrangements you made may be subject to discharge, though. What happens to property settlements depends on the type of bankruptcy.

Joint debts

Divorce not only splits up assets between you but also debts. You each are responsible for debts in your own name, and creditors cannot go after an ex for those. However, you can be at risk for liability of joint debts if your ex does not pay them, even if the divorce decree relieved you of those debts. It does not matter that you are no longer married. You acquired the debt together and have equal responsibility for it. There may be steps you can take to protect yourself if this happens.

Credit score

One of you filing for bankruptcy will not directly affect the other's credit score, because each is separate, even when you two were married. However, if joint debts fall to you due to your ex's filing, not taking care of them will hurt your credit.

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