Financial Considerations

Bankruptcy, unemployment, & underemployment

Can you file for bankruptcy when going through a divorce? What are your rights if your ex is unemployed or underemployed and owes you court-ordered support? Financial concerns are complex, so it is important you have an experienced family law attorney working on your behalf to help protect you from the financial decisions of your former or intended-ex spouse.




You or your intended ex can file for bankruptcy during or after your divorce. Individuals or couples can file under Chapter 7, where unsecured debt can be discharged, and non-exempt property can be seized to repay debts. The filing of Chapter 7 may delay your divorce because you cannot divide assets that will be forcibly liquidated to satisfy community property debt.


You could also file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13, where the court establishes a repayment schedule over three to five years, and only a percentage of the debt is repaid. A plan can allow couples to split the required repayment installments between them as part of their divorce settlement, eliminate some of their debt, and enable them to start their separate lives with a somewhat fresh financial footing.


Your creditors are not a party to your divorce. They are not interested in the fact that you and your ex determined an equitable distribution of debt and have assigned responsibility to one or the other party. They will continue to view the debt as equally yours if your ex ceases to pay. If you think this is a possibility, you can check the “hold harmless” box in the Final Divorce Order form, but this may not be enough to satisfy a creditor. You may find yourself paying off debt that is technically not your liability and needing to sue your ex to recover that money and your attorney’s fees.


Spousal support payments and child support payments are not subject to discharge in bankruptcy, which means your ex cannot get out of those payments simply by filing for bankruptcy. Additionally, if you are owed back support payments, that debt is considered a first priority, meaning it will be paid through the liquidation of any assets your ex includes as part of their bankruptcy.


Contact one of our Washington-based family law attorneys to help you understand the impact of bankruptcy on your divorce or divorce settlement. If you or your ex is considering filing for bankruptcy before your divorce is finalized, it is highly recommended you consult with a bankruptcy attorney to determine your best course of action.


Unemployment & Underemployment

If your ex thinks they can reduce their responsibilities or avoid them altogether, they will be sadly mistaken. Washington allows judges to impute income for someone who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. Imputing means the court can determine what someone should be capable of earning. That number can be used to determine child support, spousal maintenance, or the division of property. 

Imputing income does not necessarily apply to a long-term stay-at-home spouse. A family law attorney from our office can help you pursue what is right and fair while upholding the value and objectives you have discussed as being your priorities.


Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe to one or more of our newsletters, delivering meaningful insight on topics that matter to you and your family.


Blog Posts

A revocable trust or living trust is an instrument created, as part of your overall estate plan, for the purpose of protecting your assets, including investments, during your lifetime. It can also allow for a smoother transition of said assets…

Estate planning can feel overwhelming, but it is necessary to ensure your assets are in order and your loved ones are taken care of. Establishing an estate plan can also make certain issues easier for you and your family during…

In Washington state, alimony is referred to as maintenance. Maintenance is court-ordered spousal support payments that one spouse makes to assist with the living expenses of the other spouse for a period of time and for a particular purpose.  Maintenance…

The homes. The boat. The investment accounts. During a high-net-worth divorce, the disposition of these and other assets (and debts) may be one of the most significant reasons underlying the contention between you and your soon-to-be-ex, making these types of…

NFTs have garnered a significant degree of popularity in recent years, particularly among the Gen-Z and younger millennial crowd. While they are relatively new to the financial and online scene and have garnered a degree of controversy with questions surrounding…

Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin, are increasing in prominence in the investment portfolios of many. They are also used for transactions. These assets can add value to an estate, sometimes enough to turn a small estate into a high-net-worth…

For many people, real property, usually a home, makes up the largest portion of their estate. Because of that, one of the most common bequests individuals make is to have that piece of real property pass to their heirs upon…

The marital home is often a point of contention during a divorce. Whether or not to keep the house can raise a lot of emotions, especially when children are involved. If you are thinking about divorce or are in the…

The thought of losing your home or its contents in a disaster is a scary thought. Loss of life, destruction of irreplaceable items such as home movies, photos, and heirlooms make it unconscionable. But as we know in life, sometimes…

When a couple decides to divorce, and one spouse is unable to support themselves, spousal support becomes a hot-button issue. Learn how to mitigate conflict and move forward.

Having to complete a QDRO in Washington State as part of your divorce will force you to take a look at your retirement accounts, what's in them, and their terms. Learn how this impacts your divorce and your estate plan.

Do you know the damage you do when your child thinks you don't want to pay child support?

Let us help you understand the variables at stake because the short answer is how much a divorce will cost depends on the divorce. Every divorce is unique.

A guardian is necessary when a person or minor is considered "incapacitated." A person is incapacitated if the person is: 1) a minor; 2) an adult who, because of a physical or mental condition, is substantially unable to: a) provide food, clothing, or shelter for himself or herself; b) care for the person's own physical health; or c) manage the person's own financial affairs; or 3) must have a conservator appointed for the person to receive funds due the person from a governmental source.

If you're currently going through a divorce in Washington State, you're probably digging through piles of papers looking for bills, statements, and other important documents. During that search, most people, however, forget to revisit their estate planning documents. Learn why you should.