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Do Some People Choose between Divorce and Bankruptcy?

Do Some People Choose between Divorce and Bankruptcy?

Interviewer: When people are in the middle of a divorce situation or let’s say they’re in the middle of a bankruptcy situation, do they tell you that they’re considering one or the other?

Tanya: Sometimes, yes. Last year, I did two of both where the couple got divorced and the couple filed for bankruptcy. Both of them, however, were cases where both husband and wife were extremely cooperative. I cannot represent both parties in matters.

I only represent one person and the other person is advised to get counsel; however, the other spouse was very cooperative and understood the situation and didn’t feel like he or she was being treated unfairly so those went along smoothly. In most cases, you really need other lawyers to make sure there’s full objectivity. In all cases, the client must make a knowing waiver of their right to counsel.

Do Parties Need Separate Attorneys if They Are Filing for Bankruptcy and Initiating a Divorce?

Interviewer: Your practice handles both bankruptcy and divorce. When a client wants it, do you handle both for them or do you recommend that they hire someone else to do the other part?

A Couple Can File Jointly or Separately for Bankruptcy

Tanya: In a bankruptcy filing, a couple can file for bankruptcy together as a married couple. Once they’re not married anymore, once they’re divorced, they cannot file together anymore. A married couple does not have to file together. One person can file at a time as well in bankruptcy.

There are very straightforward bankruptcies, which are called Chapter 7 bankruptcies. Those are consumer bankruptcies. Those are what most people are used to and hear about on the news.

There May Be a Problem Continuing the Payment Plan for a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Filed by a Married Couple Who then Divorces

One of the other kinds of bankruptcy is called a Chapter 13 bankruptcy or a Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Those bankruptcies have payment plans that go over the course of a number of years. They can go for three to five years or longer in a Chapter 11.

The problem with that is that if parties are getting divorced and they don’t have separate lawyers and they file bankruptcies together that have extended payment plans, two or three years down the line when they divorce, that could affect not only their individual rights, but the bankruptcy resolution as well.

Attorney Helfand Always Advises Couples to File for Bankruptcy Separately to Forestall Any Later Troubles Should They Ultimately Divorce

That’s why I recommend, even though it is less expensive upfront to file together. Sometimes it does make sense to file separately. Then if a divorce occurs, you can go through the divorce proceedings while the bankruptcy is ongoing. I believe it is far better in the long run for people to be at arm’s length and protect their own specific interests. This is because quite often, divorced people don’t work together as a team.

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  • "Without Tanya and her time, the really unpleasant experience of getting divorced would have been even worse. They were able to settle the matter very quickly and helped me fit this into my tight schedule allowing me to leave to move abroad for my dissertation research on time without having to delay the trip because of the divorce. They also did all of it within my very tight budget. Thank you so much for your help and dedication to my legal matter!"  - AG

  • "Tanya and her Associates are outstanding! What I admire most about Tanya is her knowledge of the law with her keen negotiation skills to foster mediation. Her strategies efficiently resolve conflict leading to the resolution of cases. She and her team have an outstanding work ethic, know what data are needed, and get the job done. It is a pleasure to work with such wonderful professionals."  - Tara, Whippany

  • "I found Ms. Helfand's knowledge and tenacity most reassuring during the ordeal of my divorce. She was steadfast in her guidance and was very effective in her negotiations on my behalf. I would recommend her without a second thought. "  -Jonathan

  • "Ms. Helfand was very professional and helpful with our bankruptcy case. Her advice was very useful and helped us make the proper decisions for our situation. In addition, she was very supportive during a very difficult time for us. Finally, she set very specific fee expectations and there were no surprises when it was completed. I would use her services again and would recommend her, without question."

  • "She is Incredible, very quick responding to the other party. Very professional and courteous. I highly recommend her. She has a great passion and love for every single case."

  • "Tanya and her team were very professional handling my divorce proceedings. She was very proactive in making the other attorney finally get the process moving forward. I would recommend her to anyone looking for legal services. "  -Scott

  • "Ms. Helfand strategized & processed, both, my Divorce & Chapter 13 Bankruptcy. As both cases were emotionally and legally challenging, Ms. Helfand proved to be an empowering Mentor along the path to clarity for which I am truly grateful. I highly recommend her legal expertise to anyone who is seeking a confident, savvy & caring attorney to become at peace with self and any legal matters."  -Vas

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