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Divorce: When a Spouse or Former Spouse Files Bankruptcy

Understanding the Impact of Bankruptcy on Domestic Support Obligations, Property Settlements, and Taxes

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will address the interaction between bankruptcy, divorce, and property divisions. The program will discuss whether to file bankruptcy or divorce first and why it matters; which bankruptcy chapter may be best for certain situations; how bankruptcy affects the division of property and sales of businesses; whether spouses should file jointly or individually; how third-party creditors can join or be joined in a divorce case.


Divorce and bankruptcy often go hand-in-hand. The parties’ counsels must address a dizzying array of factors because bankruptcy can upend the financial plans and goals of divorced or divorcing spouses for the benefit of third-party creditors.

The bankruptcy court can recharacterize support as property division and loans as equity--or vice versa--with significant consequences. Property that can satisfy creditors in bankruptcy is difficult to determine, varies in community property and equitable division states, and turns on which chapter of bankruptcy is filed, exemptions allowed, and even residency.

The law is unsettled and fact-specific for many financial assets, such as education savings accounts, pre-paid tuition, net operating losses, and other tax attributes.

Listen as this panel of experienced bankruptcy and family law attorneys discusses best strategies for achieving the parties' financial goals when divorce and bankruptcy are factors.



  1. Overview of Divorce and Property Division
  2. Effects of bankruptcy on property divisions/settlement
    1. Definitions relevant to divorce counsel
    2. Automatic stay: what is it, and when does it apply?
    3. Property of the estate
  3. Dischargeability
    1. Obligations arising under family law orders
    2. Obligations to Third parties: Bartenwerfer v. Buckley
    3. Differences between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13; Subchapter V
  4. Strategies, Tactics, Drafting


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • Sequencing divorce and bankruptcy
  • Domestic support obligations
  • Automatic stay
  • Provisions to include in the property settlement agreement relating to bankruptcy


Berenji, Hossein
Hossein Berenji

Founder & Lead Attorney
Berenji & Associates

Mr. Berenji, owner of Berenji & Associates, is a seasoned divorce lawyer with a practice focused on...  |  Read More

Hirsch, Lawrence
Lawrence D. Hirsch

Parker Schwartz

Mr. Hirsch has practiced in Phoenix for 30 years and has a broad range of experience in all aspects of Bankruptcy...  |  Read More

Nussbaum, Randy
Randy Nussbaum

Sacks Tierney

For more than 40 years, Mr. Nussbaum has assisted individuals and businesses with complex bankruptcy protection (debtor...  |  Read More

Pikus, David
David H. Pikus

Bressler Amery & Ross

Mr. Pikus has been actively engaged as a litigator for over three decades in New York and New Jersey. Devoted to...  |  Read More

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