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What are the concerns of bankruptcy in, or during, a divorce?

For people of average means, divorce very often means a large march across bleak financial terrain. If something goes wrong -- a job loss or illness -- financial ruination and bankruptcy are very real considerations. This is why today personal bankruptcies soar and why many couples, both intact and fractured, struggle heroically to shore up tottering personal finances in "debt consolidation" strategies they hope will postpone a financial doomsday. It is anyone’s guess how many people live one paycheck from financial collapse.

Even when both divorcing spouses act in good faith, bankruptcy is very often a major consideration in a marital breakdown. Very often money problems contributed to the breakdown of the marriage, and these do not disappear when a divorce edict is handed down. Divorcing spouses, individually and/or jointly, remain responsible for their debts, and the piper must be paid. Bad as this is, spouses who part must each establish separate households, and this further strains taut finances. The arithmetic of divorce for most couples means that two households are now going to be supported by the incomes that once supported only one. This can be very hard on a solo mother.

Women, particularly stay-at-home mothers whose contribution to the marriage is child rearing, must be particularly attentive. Divorce thrusts many such woman back into the work force that has little use for people with stale job skills. This is why women, especially custodial mothers, often suffer a decline in their standard of living in the wake of a divorce. It is easy to see why, in this situation, a bankruptcy by the noncustodial parent can be catastrophic for the custodial parent as well.

Moreover, when a spouse acts in bad faith -- using bankruptcy as a way of punishing his former partner (and this has happened) -- a custodial mother can find herself destitute.