Going Through a Separation or Divorce While in a Joint Chapter 13?

Nov 12, 2009Bankruptcy

Many of my chapter 13 clients are married couples that filed a joint Chapter 13 case. They usually filed for the obvious reasons, either being behind on their home or car payments or just being overwhelmed with credit card debt and/or medical bills. A Chapter 13 allows them to consolidate most of their debt into one monthly payment, of which is usually much lower than what they were paying prior to filing the Chapter 13. By lowering their overall monthly payments to their creditors, a chapter 13 thus allows them to maintain their regular mortgage payments and their monthly bills and leave them with enough money to live comfortably.

A chapter 13 is a great tool for many married couples that have found themselves in financial difficulty. However, being in financial difficulty often creates tension between the two of them. That tension sometimes leads to separation or divorce during the Chapter 13 case. When that occurs, they have a few options as it pertains to their Chapter 13. They could either continue the chapter 13 as it, dismiss the chapter 13 outright, or they could sever the case and thus create 2 separate Chapter 13s.

A married couple that has filed a joint chapter 13 case and later either separates or gets a divorce while still in the Chapter 13 can continue with the original chapter 13. Most married couples have joint debt and thus they both would still the need protection that the bankruptcy is offering them. Further, if there is a house involved and the goal is still to keep the house, staying in the Chapter 13 main be the best option. However, if there is ever a conflict as to the Chapter 13, it may be time for the case to be dismissed or separate the case into two separate cases. Further, if there is a conflict, the attorney handling the joint case would have to withdrawal as counsel for the both of them leaving them with the difficult task of finding another attorney for their case.

If you are currently in a joint Chapter 13 and have separated from your spouse or have received a divorce, you should contact your attorney immediately (If you have not already!) There are many options available to you.