When Family Law and Bankruptcy Collide

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A family law attorney’s greatest nightmare is covering uncharted areas of law, which always seem to loom on the horizon and threaten the accuracy of the advice provided to clients. Family law crossover issues have become increasingly intricate and routinely cover real property, estate planning, pension/deferred compensation, insurance, tax and now more than ever, bankruptcy matters.

Bankruptcy has become even more of an issue during the recent economic downturn. Spouses involved in divorce may often threaten to file for bankruptcy as a means of exerting leverage, and a weak economy only increases this leverage. Some family law lawyers suggest when one party threatens bankruptcy it may really mean “I will file for bankruptcy relief to throw a monkey wrench in these proceedings if we don’t arrive at the support payments I think are reasonable.” As a result, many family law attorneys tend to refer out cases with significant bankruptcy-related issues. Before seeking the advice of a bankruptcy expert, however, it is helpful to understand some of these issues and pitfalls.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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