What happens when divorce and bankruptcy overlap?

Tampa FL divorce attorneyAs a Tampa FL divorce attorney can tell you, money problems are one of the main causes of failed marriages. In turn, divorce can lead to substantial money problems. Divorce is an already stressful ordeal, but what happens when a partner endures money problems that require them to file for bankruptcy? Sometimes divorce and bankruptcy overlap. Dealing with divorce and bankruptcy at the same time can seem impossible to handle. The following are some important things to consider when a divorce and bankruptcy overlap. For more information about handing divorce and bankruptcy proceedings at the same time, contact a Tampa FL divorce attorney from The McKinney Law Group.

Chapter 7 vs. Chapter 13 Bankruptcies

A Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates all unsecured debts. Typically, all debts are discharged within a few months. To qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, there are certain income and means requirements that must be met.

A Chapter 13 bankruptcy is different in that it requires a repayment plan to pay back debts within 3 to 5 years. If you make too much money to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, this is the next best option. Regardless of which type of bankruptcy you opt to pursue, you may be best served by working with a Tampa FL divorce attorney who can guide you through the process.

Should I File for Bankruptcy Before or After My Divorce?

Assuming both spouses intend to file for bankruptcy, there are a few things to consider when determining whether to file for bankruptcy before or after your divorce:

  • Time: If you are filing for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, it can be done before a divorce since it only takes a few months. Since a Chapter 13 bankruptcy process can take up to five years, it might be best to file after the divorce.
  • Allocation of Debts: If you and your spouse are both responsible for the debts, it is generally easier to file for joint bankruptcy before divorcing. Otherwise, regardless of who is assigned to repay a debt in a divorce, both spouses are still deemed responsible for the debt. Talk to a Tampa FL divorce attorney if your spouse and you disagree about who is responsible for which debts.
  • Property Division: If you and your spouse jointly own most of the property, then it is generally easier to divide the property after a joint bankruptcy. However, you should ensure that your state allows enough exemptions to protect the property. Some states allow more exemptions if you file jointly; if your state does not, it may better to wait until after the divorce to file.
  • Qualifying for Bankruptcy: A joint income while married may hurt your chances of qualifying for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Conversely, if you are divorced then your individual income will be less and may improve your chances of eligibility.

Whether to file jointly before a divorce or individually after a divorce largely depends on your situation, as well as the laws in your state. A divorce attorney in Tampa FL can provide you guidance based on your unique circumstances.

What To Provide Your Divorce Attorney

Tampa FL divorce attorney Damien McKinney explains what to bring with you when you’re getting ready to divorce. This checklist helps us strategize how to obtain an outcome that is as close as possible to what you want.

Preparation goes a long way towards helping you obtain the results you need from your divorce. When you compile bills, statements, and other records, we’re able to get a clear understanding of you and your spouse’s lifestyle, plus past and current situations.

These documents also support why the outcome you want is the right one for you and your children. It’s not an exhaustive list, because each case is unique, but it’s an excellent start. To find out what you need for your case, contact Tampa FL divorce attorney Damien McKinney. Learn more on How a Divorce Attorney Can Help Your Divorce Process?

Marriage Documents

In order to divorce in Florida, you need to prove you’re married and that at least one spouse has lived in Florida for 6 months — although, please note that if you or your spouse is serving in the military in Tampa or another military base, the rules may be a little different for you.

Marriage documents can include:

  • You can prove you’re married with a marriage certificate.
  • Bring any prenuptial or separation agreements.
  • Bring personal identification for you and, if possible, your spouse.
  • Bring other proofs of residence as needed.
  • Financial Documents

Your financial documents are a requirement to divorce. Within about 6 weeks of the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, the initial filing that starts your divorce process, you and your spouse will have to disclose your finances.

Since financial disclosures are often the basis of why we negotiate for certain outcomes, it’s vital to your case that you are upfront and transparent.

The McKinney Law Group is experienced with a variety of financial situations, whether in your prior residence or in Tampa FL. Divorce attorney ethics are clear here. Our job is to help you get your desired outcome, not judge your finances, so don’t withhold information here.

If you’re worried your spouse may be hiding or may try to hide assets, bring every piece of paperwork you can find that is related to what you think may be hidden. We can help you understand how you might do that if you’re not sure.

Financial documents may include:

  • Personal and business tax returns for the past 5 years
  • Proof of income, including pay stubs or offer letters
  • Benefit statements, like company stock awards or insurance policies
  • Bank account statements, including personal, business, or savings
  • Other financial account statements, like stock portfolios or trusts
  • Mortgage documents and household bills
  • Documents for Your Children

If you have children, we work hard to make sure all choices, decisions, and outcomes related to them are in their best interests. Learn more about Alimony

Emotions can run high when it comes to the matter of your children in a divorce, so we look at the real situation and listen to your explanation of the documents in order to understand what’s best for them.

Your children’s documents may include:

  • Birth certificates, indicating parentage
  • Tuition receipts and other school expenses
  • Medical bills or insurance policy costs
  • Daycare receipts and related expenses
  • Expenses related to special needs
  • Other Documents or Evidence

There may be other documents or evidence we require in order to make the strongest case possible for you. As we learn more about your needs, we can let you know if this comes up.

Other evidence can include:

  • Your will, including any living wills
  • Health directives
  • Powers of attorney
  • Personal testimony
  • Testimony from third parties
  • Interviews with your children

If you have been a victim of any kind of abuse, including psychological, physical, sexual, stalking, or harassment, please let us know immediately. We can help you understand how to stay safe and direct you to the appropriate resources.

In these instances, please provide us with copies of police reports you may have, too.

Tampa FL Divorce Attorney Explains Alimony Basics

After a divorce, spouses may be obligated to pay support for the former spouse. This agreement can be decided between the couple or in some cases be determined by the court. At The McKinney Law Group we strive to help you during this already difficult time. You may be in need of spousal support but find that a fair agreement is not being meet. Our lawyers will work along your side and guide you every step of the way so that you are receiving the financial support you need.

The Purpose of Alimony

Alimony was put into action as a way to restrict one-sided economic effects after a divorce on either individual. Alimony is having the higher paid spouse provide financial support to the lower wage earning spouse or a non wage earning spouse. There are two primary purposes of alimony:

  1. One of the spouses may have chosen to stay home with the family to help raise children. Alimony will allow that spouse the opportunity to develop job skills without the extra financial burden.   
  2. Help the spouse maintain the standard of living they had during the marriage.

Determining the Amount of Alimony

If the couple can come to an agreement on their own regarding spousal support you may not need to go to court. However, in the event that you do, the court has few guidelines and restrictions that must be followed when determining if alimony should be awarded or not. Our knowledgeable Tampa FL divorce attorney will advocate on your behalf and encourage the court to keep the following factors in mind when making decisions regarding alimony:

  • Physical condition, age, financial condition and emotional state of the spouses.
  • If it is feasible for the spouse paying alimony to still support herself or himself.
  • The standard of living that the couple shared during marriage.
  • How long the marriage lasted.
  • How much time would the individual receiving spousal support need for training or education in order to become self-sufficient.

Alimony Timeframe

The length of time that alimony must be paid varies according to different factors. These may include:

  • Spousal support is only being paid for the time period it takes for the recipient spouse to gain training or education needed to become self-supporting. However, the court orders must specify a termination date in order for them to stop, otherwise alimony must continue to be paid.
  • If the recipient spouse gets remarried, the spousal support will most likely end.
  • In some situations, if the spouse paying alimony dies, spousal support may still be obtained by the other spouse. This is determined by the court and they will analyze age and/or health conditions. If they believe the individual is still in need of financial assistance, the support may come from the paying spouse’s life insurance or estate proceeds.  

Get the Help you Deserve from a Tampa FL Divorce Attorney

If you are concerned about how you will support yourself after going through a divorce then consider contacting the skillful divorce lawyers from The McKinney Law Group. A divorce can be an emotional and stressful time without the added legal issues. Our lawyers can provide excellent service and prepare you for the future. When you are ready for a free consultation with a Tampa FL divorce attorney, call The McKinney Law Group.