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Claim Bankruptcy in Divorce?
Jan L. Warner & Jan Collins

Question: I am in the midst of a divorce proceeding and find that I canít afford to pay all the debt that my wife and I incurred, yet I was required to pay by the family court. If I donít pay, I could be held in contempt and put in jail. My lawyer tells me I have no options since the family court will not change its order. Is there anything I can do as I am sinking more every day and need immediate relief?

Answer: Bankruptcy may be an option; however, since is it so complicated and has such far-reaching and long-term effects, we urge you to contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney to assist you in making this decision.

Should the decision be made for you to seek the protection of the Bankruptcy Court, an ďautomatic stay" will begin when you file your bankruptcy petition. The automatic stay forbids all creditors 1) from collecting debts that were incurred before you filed you filed and 2) from taking any action against your assets until either a bankruptcy discharge is issued or your case is dismissed. Should any creditor violate the "automatic stay," the bankruptcy judge can hold violator in contempt and require that the creditor pay your attorney fees and other damages. Make sure you coordinate your efforts with your matrimonial lawyer. Since a bankruptcy can substantially affect your spouse, she should also seek the assistance of a bankruptcy attorney.

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