Brandon Family Lawyer Noted for Expert Counsel on Timing of Divorce and Bankruptcy
Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) April 12, 2011 - Family law and bankruptcy attorney Laurel A. Tesmer, Esq. has received a lot of kudos lately. From her active role in Leadership Brandon this year to writing an article for the Hillsborough County Bar Association’s magazine, The Lawyer, she is an emerging star in the legal profession and her community.
With the current dire state of the economy, Laurel A. Tesmer, Esq. and her colleagues at Osenton Law Offices, P.A., are fielding a lot of calls and consultations about what comes first – divorce or bankruptcy.
“Today, many of our clients are not only facing divorce but also contemplating filing bankruptcy,” Tesmer said. “Filing before or during a divorce can simplify the family law proceeding by taking care of all, or most of the parties debts and in some cases their assets as well.”
Bankruptcy can provide financial relief to each individual and give them a fresh start. If parties file jointly prior to their divorce, they will save on court costs and usually attorney’s fees, too. As long as the parties are married on the date the bankruptcy petition is filed, they can file a joint petition. This also means that the two cases can go on simultaneously. If the parties make a joint decision to file bankruptcy, they can eliminate any surprises that may arise if one spouse files after the dissolution of marriage and discharges their liability on debts held in joint names.
“It’s important to know that any assets the parties have over the exemption amounts become part of the bankruptcy estate and may be sold or otherwise disposed of by the trustee to satisfy creditor claims,” said Tesmer, who has helped clients with their Brandon family law matters for more than four years. “Each individual client’s needs and financial situation is unique, so it is critical to evaluate the best timing for filing a bankruptcy.”
Some of the key issues to work through involve assets, income and debts, and ability to have an ex-spouse follow through with their duties after the bankruptcy. If the parties file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, then they will be jointly liable for making the Chapter 13 plan payments to the bankruptcy trustee. This will tie the parties together for an additional five years and could potentially bring up post-judgment issues seeking to enforce the obligation of one party or the other.
In a situation where only one party needs to file bankruptcy, they could be put at a disadvantage when looking at the means test, as married parties have to include the spouse’s income even when filing alone. If a debtor has a certain level of income based on household size, they will not be able to file a Chapter 7, but will have to file a Chapter 13 that requires a repayment plan.
In some cases it is more advantageous to file for bankruptcy after a dissolution of marriage. The parties simply may not be able to cooperate during the bankruptcy process or payments required with a Chapter 13 plan. After divorce, an individual may qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy based on income and it may not even be necessary for both parties to file. But be cautious – one party could discharge their liability of a joint debt, leaving the other party responsible. This will bring up post-judgment issues with respect to indemnification provisions for the debts discharged.
Osenton Law Offices provides clients with skilled and compassionate legal advice to help them through the complex process of bankruptcy and divorce. They have effectively counseled clients on marital and family law, bankruptcy, business law, and litigation matters. The firm is known for their personal attention and tenacity to create a tailored strategy that helps each individual achieve their goals for the next steps in life.
Osenton Law Office, PA
500 Lithia Pinecrest Road
Brandon, Florida 33511
Call: (813) 654-5777
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