Which Should You File For First: Bankruptcy or Divorce?

September 22, 2022

Which Should You File For First: Bankruptcy or Divorce?

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce, it is not unusual to have financial problems at the same time as other martial challenges. Divorce can be emotionally draining, and with bankruptcy piled on top of it, life becomes even more stressful. If you are considering both, you may be curious if it would be best to wait until after the divorce to file for bankruptcy, or to file for bankruptcy first. The entire scenario in front of you may seem confusing and overwhelming, both legally and emotionally. When you understand the options you have regarding divorce or bankruptcy, it can reduce your anxiety, and help you make the best decision possible. If you are considering a divorce and are facing significant financial challenges, filing bankruptcy after divorce could be an option for you. Contact the experienced Colorado divorce law attorneys at Johnson Law Group at (720) 463-4333 or through Text-to-Chat (720) 730-4558 to learn all of your legal and financial options.

Avoid Filing for Bankruptcy and Divorce at the Same Time

In most circumstances, the two legal matters of divorce and bankruptcy should not overlap with each other. Part of the bankruptcy process is putting an “automatic stay” on your assets and property. Part of the divorce process is to divide up your assets. Having two legal processes going at the same time regarding your finances may provide additional, unwanted, and complicated challenges. Therefore, you should make the decision if you want to go through and finalize a bankruptcy first, or divorce first. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Additionally, every situation is unique, and it is important to understand all of the legal and financial implications of a bankruptcy on your divorce. Consider visiting with an attorney to get all of your questions answered.

Bankruptcy or Divorce First?

Does it matter if you file for divorce or bankruptcy first? Will this affect alimony and child support? Here is a quick summary of what to consider when filing for bankruptcy or divorce.


Unless you file for bankruptcy jointly, your bankruptcy and credit score will only affect the person that files. Therefore, filing for bankruptcy after divorce or before divorce will not cause your spouse’s credit history to be impacted. You do not need a spouse’s consent to file for bankruptcy. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy involves a shorter timeline than Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be a quicker process, sometimes eliminating all dischargeable debt within six months. Chapter 13 bankruptcy sets up a three to five-year payment plan and will not completely eliminate debt. An experienced attorney can help you decide which bankruptcy chapter is right in your specific circumstance.


If you choose to file for bankruptcy after divorce, you will still face an “automatic stay” placed on your finances. However, if you file for bankruptcy after your divorce all of your martial assets will have gone through an equitable division of property through the courts, so you will know whether or not you still need to file for bankruptcy, as many of your debts may be shared or distributed to your ex-spouse through the divorce process. Although you can file for bankruptcy any time, legally, this may be a more advantageous period to file, based on your unique situation. Visiting with an experienced family law attorney or bankruptcy attorney can help you decide the best course of action for your needs.

Will I Have To Pay Child Support or Alimony If I File For Bankruptcy?

Yes. Any legally required alimony or child support is considered non-dischargeable inbankruptcy. Child support or alimony will not be declared a “dismissed debt” if you declare bankruptcy after a divorce. The court views a parent as financially responsible for their child, and filing for bankruptcy does not change these financial obligations. Child support payments and alimony rank as priorities under the law, and under Section 523(a)(5) of the Bankruptcy Code. Bankruptcy will not change your responsibility to pay child support and alimony.

Financial Rights and Divorce

Most people expect that there are emotional consequences of a divorce. However, there are substantial financial consequences, as well. You should take efforts to ensure that both your legal and financial rights remain protected during and after your divorce. If you are curious what your legal options are in your specific set of circumstances, do not hesitate to contact the dedicated and compassionate family law attorneys at Johnson Law Group. Our legal team will take the time to help you understand all of your options and help answer all of your questions as it relates to bankruptcy and divorce.

Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney

When you understand more about bankruptcy and divorce, you can make more informed decisions regarding your specific situation. Every person’s facts and circumstances will warrant different courses of action. Both divorce and bankruptcy can be complicated and detailed processes and should not be handled without expert advice. It is always best to consult with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through both of these legally complex court proceedings. Wrestling with large life decisions such as divorce and bankruptcy can be overwhelming. The experienced Colorado divorce attorneys at Johnson Law Group can help you take the best course of action for your unique situation. We can help you develop a plan for both, and help ensure your legal rights are protected. Contact our legal team to schedule your free consultation today at (720) 463-4333 or through Text-to-Chat (720) 730-4558.

Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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