I *strongly* Recommend Discussing This Issue In Detail With Both Your Divorce Attorney And Your Bankruptcy Attorney. This Can Be A Complex Issue, And You Need To Rely On People Who Have All The Details And Are Familiar With Your State's Laws.
I'm on the verge of filing for divorce and bankruptcy in the state of Kansas. No children, no major property issues, just a major credit card debt. All but 4 cards are in my name. The other 4 cards are in her name. All the cards, and the debt occurred during the marriage. She refuses to file bankruptcy as a married couple, (to eliminate her credit card debt so she wouldn't have to worry about being saddled with debt) but makes it very clear that she expects me to pay her cards off as part of the divorce settlement. I've informed her that I will not pay her credit card bills, and that I intend to file chapter 7 regardless of her actions during the divorce. The combined debt is in excess of $90,000--her debt is roughly $25,000. The questions: 1. Should I file bankruptcy before the divorce, forcing her to file, or attempt to include her as a creditor by naming her cards as part of my debt? 2. File the divorce and put the property settlement on hold until my bankruptcy is complete. (My concern here is a contempt citation from the divorce court forcing me to pay for her credit card debt once everything is final)? 3. File the divorce, wait until the final outcome of the property settlement, then file bankruptcy naming the settlement as part of my debt?
I don't know about Kansas divorce law and judges, but she'll have a hard time justifying this since the cards are in her name only (I would think). If she never worked and you were her sole support it might be different, but I doubt that's the case since without a job it would be unlikely for her to be able to get the cards in the first place. Unless Kansas laws are vastly different from my state (Virginia), an individual filing by you would not "force" her into filing herself. And unless you are in some way liable for her credit cards (i.e. a co-signer), I don't think you can claim them in a bankruptcy. You do have to claim joint debts though. Bear in mind though, any debts which are in both names, would immediately fall completely on her. And trust me, they will go after her for them. (Unfortunately this is what happened to me. I got saddled with several debts that I was stupid enough to allow to be in both names, even though I'd never benefited or had anything else to do with the debts.) Personally I wouldn't think the judge would do that unless they were extremely biased and your wife played it that you filed the bankruptcy just to stick her with all the debts. By the same token, it may tick a judge off that she expects you to pay her debts as well as your own (it would me, anyway). I'm really, really not sure...but I think in some states you might not be able to declare a divorce settlement in a bankruptcy (Brett, *please* correct me if I'm wrong!). Whatever you do, definitely speak to a good divorce lawyer and a bankruptcy lawyer prior to either legal action. They're the ones who can tell you how the Kansas laws work and how the judges react to things. I *strongly* recommend discussing this issue in detail with both your divorce attorney and your bankruptcy attorney. This can be a complex issue, and you need to rely on people who have all the details and are familiar with your state's laws.
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