What to do with marital debt after a divorce?

Marital Debt

After your decree of divorce is signed by the judge and becomes final, what are your options in regards to the debt you are required to take care of?

To answer this question you need to read your decree to see if any of your debt obligations are couched in a way that sounds like they are really alimony or child support. Such as, “in the form of alimony, the Petitioner shall be required to pay the mortgage of $???? till the debt is paid.” All debts from a divorce except “domestic support obligations” like alimony and child support may be discharged in bankruptcy.

Thus, as long as your debt is not tied to some domestic support obligation you can dump it regardless of whether your decree says you are the one responsible for paying it. Your ex will probably find out about your bankruptcy and be pretty upset. Your ex may file an Order to Show Cause, but the judge can’t do anything to punish you for not paying it despite the decree requiring it. Why? This is because the federal bankruptcy “preempts” the power of the state district court and the court cannot hold one liable for failing to adhere to the decree where the failure relates to something the bankruptcy code says they don’t have to pay anymore. Were it otherwise the divorce decree would actually have more power than the bankruptcy code and that simply can’t happen.

Make sure that when you are shopping for a family law attorney that he or she understands, or has another in the office that does bankruptcy. If they don’t it is likely the attorney will mess with your divorce in a way that could punish you later.

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins has attorneys that do bankruptcy and family law together. We are well experienced in both and can avail you of the loopholes to help your situation.

Call today 801-475-0123 for a free no hassle consultation for bankruptcy or family law and divorce with Matt Wadsworth.

Written by Arnold Wadsworth Coggins

Arnold, Wadsworth & Coggins Attorneys is a premier Utah law firm serving the Wasatch Front in the areas of family law, bankruptcy, criminal law, and civil litigation. Our attorneys provide clients with exceptional legal representation and personal attention. With over 35 years of trial practice and litigation experience, we bring big firm expertise at affordable rates