Although divorce is notorious for using up all your money, your financial problems can start long before then. In fact, they may be the reason for the divorce. What should you do when you face the end of your financial means and your marriage?

The choice of which to file first depends on the following factors and your specific circumstances. You can talk to an attorney experienced in both family law and bankruptcy for professional guidance on which is best for your situation.

Bankruptcy type

Do you want to file for Chapter 7 to discharge debt but do not qualify due to having a high joint income? If you do not want to file for Chapter 13, which involves a modified repayment plan, then you may have to divorce first to be eligible for Chapter 7. However, if you want the benefits of Chapter 13, such as preventing home foreclosure and wage garnishment, then remaining in your marriage may be better.

Bankruptcy fees

The cost to file on your own or as a couple is no different, so going through bankruptcy before a divorce will save you money on filing fees and credit counseling classes. The savings may be worth remaining with your spouse for a little longer.

Division of debt

When you divorce, you not only have to divide your assets, but also your debts. Eliminating as much debt as possible beforehand and determining exempt property can make asset division much easier and less contentious. Furthermore, divorce does not protect you from creditors if your ex does not pay his or her debt.

Ability to cooperate

None of the benefits of filing for bankruptcy first will matter if you and your spouse cannot cooperate throughout the process. In fact, if your soon-to-be-ex is abusive or hostile, it may be best to wait until your divorce is over to deal with debt.