Kansas Divorce and Bankruptcy – How to Not be Axed by your Ex’s Debt

Guest post from Kevin Craig.

Divorce And Bankruptcy- Stay Away From Being Axed By Your Ex’s Debt

written by Kevin Craig

“When a man is in love or in debt, someone else has the advantage”- Bill Balance.

Being on the verge of filing divorce and bankruptcy is certainly not an enviable experience of life and if you are going through similar situation you certainly don’t feel great at all. Divorce and debt problems often go hand in hand and affect each other especially in terms of finance and possessions. Fighting about finances can drain the joy out of a marital life and compel the couple to split up. The disaster continues when your better or worse half runs up overwhelming debts and unfairly you get saddled with your partner’s debt. There are ways  to evade such marital damage like debt consolidation or filing for bankruptcy. Both divorce and bankruptcy can cause you mental and financial setbacks. If not possible to mitigate the mental loss, try at least to trim down the financial one. Pull your socks up and make the best of a bad bargain. Consider the few points given below and take help of a divorce attorney to bring your financial life back on track after the disasters of divorce and bankruptcy.

  • In a marital relationship both the partners remain equally liable for debts incurred during the marriage. Even the debts accumulated after the divorce petition gets filed, also need to be taken care of both the partners. However it is not as simple as it sounds. Sorting out which debts are separate debts and which are joint debts is a marathon task. In case your partner declares bankruptcy and you don’t, you could be on the hook for the entire total of the debt that the two of you acquired during the marriage. It is better when both the spouses file for joint bankruptcy, so that neither party becomes solely responsible for the marital debt.
  • The most intricate issue after the trauma of divorce and bankruptcy is division of marital property and individual property. Marital property, all that is purchased by the couple after marriage will be used for paying off the debt after bankruptcy. Make sure you have enough proofs to exempt your property from bankruptcy and your partner should not claim it as a marital one.
  • You can present a certain property of your spouse as a security lien as well. This is another possible way to stop monetary loss for your better half’s debt. You can repay your wife’s/husband’s debt by liquidating this property and can ask court to consider it as a support payment if your spouse fails to pay according to the court orders.
  • It is always wise to include indemnity into the divorce degree. It can save you in case the lenders sue you for your spouse’s post-divorce debt. When your partner files insolvency, the court can use this order to protect you.

Both Divorce and Bankruptcy can be unnerving experience for both, you and your partner. Financial crisis can frequently put a marriage on the skids, and bankruptcy can derail a divorce as well. Follow the above mentioned points and save your self from the post bankruptcy financial damage. Make sure you start your new life without a dent in your wallet.

The Expense of Not Listening to Your Attorney

I am not always correct.  I said it, and yes, I mean it.

However, there are a lot of instances in a divorce case where you need to listen to your attorney and trust that your attorney has your best interests at heart.  For instance, this weekend I met with a client who wanted to file for divorce on Monday before her husband left on a job assignment on Tuesday for the summer.  We had one day to get him served the papers, and had planned to effect service with a private process server.  My client calls me very early Monday morning  and advised me that she did not want him served, that he would come to my office and pick up the papers.  I urged her to go ahead and let the process server do his job, because without service, we could not move forward.  She was relying on the conversations she and her spouse had the previous day, however, when I called him to pick up the documents, he advised me he was leaving town immediately and would not pick up the papers.

I do not want to say I told you so, but just remember that there is a reason you and your spouse are getting divorced, and most likely it has to do with communication and/or trust.  There are certain aspects of the legal process you need to leave up to your attorney, and this was one of those decisions.   I am an advocate for keeping lines of communication open, but not when it is going to negatively effect my client.

Effects of Your Health and Child Custody in Kansas

If you have not read about the North Carolina case wherein a mother with Stage IV breast cancer lost custody of her kids, please read it.  I am shocked by this outcome, however, I do know and understand that each and every child custody case is very fact specific.  According to the Court’s ruling, cancer was only ONE factor, they had a myriad of factors to deal with such as mental health concerns, allegations of cheating, restraining orders and domestic violence.  I do not believe I have all of the facts available to me to state  my feelings about this case, however, I do believe that this case is somewhat shocking and it sets a scary precedent.

This case brought up some questions regarding custody, that are mostly rhetorical in nature:

1. Is is better for the children to be uprooted from the environment they know in an effort to protect them from potentially being damaged due to a parent’s illness?

2.  Is it in the best interests of the children to take them away from their mother who may not live for another six months?

3.  Does this ruling set a precedence for all ill people to potentially lose custody of their children?

4.  Are children better off to live with a healthy parent who works full time, requiring the children to be in daycare  or with a parent who does not work, is available for the children, but has to attend several doctor appointments during the week?

5.  Would it be possible for divorced parents to understand what is best for the children is for BOTH parents to be involved in the children’s daily lives and find some way to make this work?

Unreimbursed Medical Bills after my Kansas Divorce

Unreimbursed medical bills (co-pays, prescriptions, therapy, etc) can be a nightmare for parties to deal with after divorces.  I would suggest to insert language in your settlement agreement or decree providing for the process of how unreimbursed expenses should be dealt with.  For starters, pursuant to the Kansas Child Support guidelines, unreimbursed medical expenses shall be split proportionate to the parties income as listed on the most recent child support worksheet (line D.2).  Second, you need to specify how often each party will share the bills.  I would suggest a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of quarterly.   Additionally, a time limit should be stated determining the amount of time for reimbursement (for example 60 days from the date of receipt of the bill).

I also suggest to have language as to how the parties should deal with obtaining services that are not covered by insurance (absent an emergency).  If the parties have joint custody, then the parties need to have a mechanism for discussing and agreeing upon the treatment sought prior to obtaining services.  If you do not agree upon the route of treatment and decide to unilaterally seek treatment, you may be stuck paying for 100% of the expense (this is dependent on a lot of factors, I am just cautioning against making decisions unilaterally).

Even though your decree or separation agreement is very clear on unreimbursed medical expenses, it does not mean that you will receive reimbursement from your ex-spouse.  What I suggest doing is wait until the total adds up to an amount worth taking time off from work.  I would suggest to visit the Johnson County Trustee’s website and complete the Motion for Reimbursement of Medical Expenses form.

You can’t make your spouse (or soon be be ex-spouse) a better parent

Harsh words? Maybe.  Reality? Yes.

I actually heard the Judge tell a soon to be ex-wife these words last week in the courtroom.  She was complaining that she has no free time, that he hasn’t had the kids overnight for over a year, etc, etc.  The Judge, very clearly and calmly explained that he has no power to make her spouse be a better parent.  He does not have the authority to throw him in jail for failing to exercise parenting time.  The only think that Judge can do in this instance is potentially give Mother more child support for since she has the children 100% of the time.

The point of the above story is to realize what you can and can’t control.  I tell my clients very often that while I wish the situation were different, there are certain things I can’t help them with.  Being good parents is certainly one of these topics.  But what I do emphasize what my client can control: his or herself.  This means making the most out of the time you have with your children.  Let’s face it, we have a very short time that kids want to hang out with their parents, so enjoy the limited time you have, even if your spouse doesn’t.

Choosing your Emotions During your Kansas Divorce

Below is an excerpt from an article posted on Huffington Post.  The author of the article is  NY Times Bestseller for her book, and I think her insight into dealing with very hurtful words during a divorce are wonderful.

EXCEPT:

So when a different kind of rejection came my way in words that none of us wants to hear and most of us dread: I don’t love you anymore…even though they came from my dear husband’s mouth after 15 years of what I considered to be a loving marriage, even though they were shocking and hurtful, I knew that I could employ the same philosophy I’d been working with in my writing life, and not let them take me down. There began my “season of unlikely happiness.”

He wanted to leave. I knew he was running scared due to career failure and my gut told me this was a crisis of self that he was transferring on to me. So I decided to give him the space to work through it…and he took it. He didn’t move out. He took his problems to nature, fishing, camping, hiking in the Rocky Mountains where we live. He was distant, unreliable, and sometimes cruel. But I knew that if I took it all personally, and reacted to the drama, that I would be in pain and I didn’t want that. My job was to take care of myself and surrender the future of my marriage, even though I deeply loved this man. Holding the space for him to heal was the best way I could show him that love, regardless of whether or not he came back as an equal loving partner.

But it wasn’t always easy. My inner critic wanted blood. She told me lies. Lots of them. “You are being a door mat! You need to hire a private detective! You need to demand he see a therapist! You need to kick his a** out!!!” But my greater instincts told me that my real work was to let go and to focus on creating positive moments with my children, hiking in the mountains, picking huckleberries, digging in the garden, cooking big feasts, playing games on the screen porch. Of course there were times I needed to rage and cry, and I did that alone on my horse in the woods or at four in the morning when the panic and fear hit hard and I couldn’t seem to quiet my mind. That’s when my inner critic was loudest. “I don’t love you any more means you are unlovable. You will lose everything–full custody of your children, your animals, your house, your car. You will end up alone. ” But I knew my work was to replace that victim’s voice with positive thinking, moment by moment, breath by breath, heart beat by heart beat. Over and over I would say to myself “I am enough. I am enough.” Even when I didn’t believe it. And it worked. I felt a peace in that time of my life I’d never known.
My husband and I healed through this crisis, but that’s not what my book is about. It’s about choice. It’s about the myth of where our power lies. It’s about personal freedom. It’s about letting go. I would hope that even if our marriage hadn’t made it, I would still be able to practice this philosophy and have the same personal results.

People want to know: how is it possible to not take those words personally?

And my answer is: no one can cause you to have an emotion. It’s playground politics all over again. No one can “make” you mad or feel guilty or cry or laugh. Physically, yes, a black eye is a black eye. But emotionally, it’s always a choice. I read somewhere recently that we have around 60,000 thoughts a day and something like 75-80 % of them are negative. That doesn’t surprise me one bit. We have chosen to become emotional victims and I think it’s because there’s a pay-off to it. We get to be right. We have told ourselves a story a long time ago that we are powerful when we________. Or conversely, not powerful when we are not__________. And then we let those equations run our lives and determine our perceptions and reactions so that we can prove our story true. Our inner critic screams, megaphone to our heart: “See, I told you the world sucks. I told you you would fail. I told you you are powerless.”

And I was left with a simple question: What can I create…in this moment? I’ve created being miserable. That no longer feels good. So what if I get to be right. I’m sick of that pay-off. I’d rather create something that works in my life. That feels easy and natural and simple and good. There is intense freedom in powerfully choosing to create happiness in your life. No matter what people are saying to you or what’s going on in your mind or in your life. And it doesn’t mean that we have to go outside ourselves or travel across oceans. All our happiness is right there at our kitchen sink, driving our kids around, sitting in our office chair, totally available to us.

Telling the Kids About your Kansas Divorce

It may be hard to tell your spouse you want a divorce, but when it comes to telling the children, this is the most difficult task for a majority of my clients. In a perfect world, you and your spouse would sit down with the children together, advise them that Mom and Dad are no longer going to be married, but to not worry as this is not their fault and you will always be a family, regardless of where Mom and Dad are living. However, the world of divorce is not perfect, and often one spouse is left to tell the kids. While not all of these tips may be relevant, I urge you to think about what you are going to say to your kids before you say anything at all.

1. Know your short-term plan regarding the martial residence. Children need stability.  Often one of the questions when the learn about the divorce is “Are we going to have to move”.  Granted, you may not know if you will be able to keep the marital residence, however, for the short term, know if you or your spouse is going to live in the marital residence, and if you are moving, tell them where you are going and the proposed parenting plan.

2. Stay civil. As much as you want to tell your kids what has gone on in the marriage, don’t do it.  If your spouse has had an affair, let him/her tell the children if they choose to do so.  If your spouse wants the divorce but you don’t, the kids will not be better off knowing this.  There is blame in every divorce.  It will most likely hurt you in the long run if you talk bad about your spouse to the children.

3.  Don’t use your children as therapists. It is absolutely inappropriate to break down and discuss your anger and fears with your children, regardless of their age or maturity, because no matter what age your children are, they always see you as Mom or Dad.   When children are in the position of therapist, they may be forced to pick sides and may ultimately place blame for the divorce on them.

Each situation is different and every family has a different dynamic structure.  I recommend to think before you speak, and encourage families to seek therapy at the onset of the divorce, not once the children have shown signs of suffering.

Why You Shouldn’t Ask For Your Friends Advice During Your Kansas Divorce

Every divorce is different.  Different facts, different courthouse, different judge and most of all different parties.  People who have been through a divorce often end up thinking they are experts on divorce.  Granted, they have experience in divorce, but they are only an expert with respect to their specific case, not the field of divorce.  Most people turn to their friends or family members with experience of divorce prior to seeking legal counsel, however, I caution readers to be wary that what your friend experienced may very well not be what you experience.

Reasons to NOT believe what everyone else is telling you about their divorce:

1) When you look at your own divorce, there are many emotions involved, therefore you may not be able to accurately decifer what is the law v. what you think is fair.

2) Every family is different.  Divorce cases are about families, so each divorce case will be different.   Different facts, different judge, different attorneys, children, etc.

3) The law and case precedent changes often.  What happened in your friends case a few years ago may not be the law that is applied to your case today.

My advice is to use your friends for support, not advice.  Ask someone to listen, but not necessarily ask them what you should do.  Use your attorney for guidance with respect to child support, property division, division of debts, etc.  Use your friends to help you get through the scary days of not knowing what your future looks like and the loneliness that often accompanies divorcees.

How You and Your Spouse Can Make Your Kansas Divorce Amicable

Please read the title of this article again.  Note is doesn’t say “YOU”, it says “YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE”.  It truly does take both of you to agree on keeping things amicable, but on the other side of the coin, if YOU keep these simple things in mind, then maybe you can keep your spouse on the uncontested track, instead of slinging mud right back when mud is slinged at you.

One of the most important things to keep in mind in an uncontested divorce is why you want to keep your divorce amicable.  There are three common reasons:

1.  You have children and don’t want them to suffer.

2. You don’t have a lot of money to spend on a divorce or you don’t want to spend a lot of money.

3. You want to keep the friendship that you have with your spouse.

How do you do you keep things amicable?  While I don’t have a perfect formula, I do have some suggestions that I have learned from my clients who have successfully divorced amicably:

1. Be honest with your spouse about why you want a divorce.  Be up front, don’t try to hide things, and give him or her the respect they deserve.

2. Take some ownership in the problems that led to your divorce.  Don’t point fingers, accept that you both contributed to the demise of the relationship, and move forward.

3. See a therapist on your own.  Let’s face it, we all need a non-judging third party to listen.  Having someone to talk to in a safe environment will prevent you from lashing out at your spouse.

Once you are your spouse are in agreement that you have given your relationship a chance, but you can’t make it work together, then seek a divorce.  There is no way that your divorce will be amicable if you try to shock your spouse by filing.   Relationships are built on trust, and if you want your divorce to remain friendly, your divorce must start on the same trust foundation.

Co-Parenting Tip: Be Present During Your Parenting Time

Well, duh.  I have to be there since I am the one responsible for taking care of my kids.  Not what I mean.  Being present means being there with your full mind, attention and energy.  While this may not be feasible to do 100% of the time, it is especially important to do if you have less time with your children post-divorce than you did pre-divorce.  Quality of time is much more important that quantity in most cases.  So, cherish the time you have with your children and save the chores, bill paying and work you brought home until your children go to bed or they are with the other parent.

How to “be present”:

1.  Plan activities instead of relying on the TV to entertain you.

2. Get out of the house.  It is too easy to tune out in the comforts of home.  Go to the park, take the dog for a walk, go to the library.  The activity doesn’t matter, just get up and out and enjoy yourselves.

3. Teach, or learn a new skill together.  You will then have a special activity to do with your children that he or she will look forward to during your parenting time.

4. Turn off the TV during dinner and sit at the table.  Engage your children and get them talking about themselves (almost everyone loves to talk about him/herself).

5.  Put your cell phone away.  Yes, you can live without it.  At minimum, turn off your emails and just keep the ringer on.  It is too often that parents are more concerned with the latest post on Facebook than your child’s most recent milestone.

The more attention and affection your children get the more adjusted they will be with the divorce.  Two happy loving parents is the best environment, regardless of marital status.