In the early stages of a marriage, it can be easy to ignore when your spouse has a different attitude toward spending than you do. However, once you have a few more years under your belt and substantial financial obligations, such as a mortgage, credit card debt, childcare or medical bills, those opposing views can feel a lot more important. 

Couples in all sorts of financial situations find that money matters get in the way of a fulfilling marriage. The stress of debts that have you considering bankruptcy can be a huge factor in deciding to move toward divorce. 

If you are in the midst of discussing divorce with your spouse, you may think that it is better to wait for the finalized divorce ruling to start sorting out your finances. Yet, waiting to file for bankruptcy after a divorce may leave you at a disadvantage. 

Bankruptcy and expenses 

The divorce process itself may also bring new expenses that bankruptcy would not help address. Think through whether your income as a single person would cover: 

  • Your living expenses 
  • Potential spousal support and/or child support 
  • Your share of joint marital debts 

While bankruptcy may discharge your debts, it would not discharge support obligations from a divorce. 

Timing 

In deciding the timing for a bankruptcy filing, you and your spouse should consider: 

  • How long you will continue to live together and pool financial resources 
  • How much and what type of property you each own separately  

For many couples, it is more practical to file for bankruptcy together. This allows you to share the attorney fees, handle joint debts appropriately and start your post-divorce lives with a cleaner slate. 

Of course, filing for bankruptcy jointly may require a level of cooperation that you and your spouse no longer wish to have if divorce is imminent. Be aware that a married person can file for bankruptcy individually, but there may still be consequences for your spouse with any joint debts.