Usually when the word bankruptcy is used by one of the parties in a divorce setting, confusion and uncertainty ensues. Sometimes one of the parties in a divorce attempts to use this as a weapon to seek an unfair advantage in the proceedings. It is very common that one or both of the parties in a divorce get to the point where they feel the burn financially. Usually divorce leaves the people involved with less money than they had before, especially when the divorce is contentious and attorney’s fees (and emotions) are high.
What happens when you were the dependent spouse during the marriage – meaning you stayed at home with the children or earned significantly less – and your soon to be ex files for bankruptcy? There is a two-fold answer to this but generally, your spouse filing for bankruptcy will not prevent you from requesting and receiving support. Case law in Pennsylvania is pretty clear that bankruptcy will not serve to delay or terminate support proceedings. On the flip side however, filing for bankruptcy commonly does delay the ability for family law courts to deal with the final division of assets (Equitable Distribution) in divorce. Looking at this from a 10,000 foot view, what this all means is that even if your divorce is stalled by the other person filing for bankruptcy, you will not be totally without a remedy because an action for support (be it spousal support, child support, or alimony pendent lite) will not be stalled. Additionally, if you’re looking for a positive angle in all of this marital chaos, the act of filing for bankruptcy requires the filer to accurately list all of his or her assets and debts. In divorces, finding out this information can be critical to sizing up the marital estate and the obtaining the financial information that your spouse files with the bankruptcy court is an easy way to corroborate this. If the spouse filing for bankruptcy fails to provide a complete list of assets and debts in bankruptcy, he or she risks the chance that his bankruptcy petition will be dismissed.
What all of this means is that if the threat of bankruptcy is a reality in your divorce, you need a lawyer who has at least a general understanding of bankruptcy and its effects on support and asset distribution. At LaMonaca Law, we go one step further. We have recently unveiled our Forensic Support Team, which is comprised of a team of attorneys who specialize in the financial aspects of divorce. More generally, if you are facing the prospect of divorce and you know that there will be complicated financial issues due to the size and structure of the marital estate, why not place your trust in a team that specializes in the field? LaMonaca Law handles complicated divorce cases in Delaware, Chester, Montgomery, Philadelphia and many other local counties. For further information, click on the website or call (610) 892-3877.