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Family law: When one partner declares bankruptcy

These are difficult economic times for many people. Some Ontario residents have problems making ends meet and when debt becomes overwhelming, the most sensible road to take involves bankruptcy. Family law stipulates that when one partner declares bankruptcy, the other is on the hook if some of those debts are shared.  If signatures appear on some of those debts -- like a credit card in both names -- both partners are responsible.

It is shocking for some people, but the reality is if one partner declares bankruptcy and shares some of the debt, the other may have to pay off the amount owing. This is true whether the couple is married, living in a common law union, divorced or separated. If those joint debts can't be paid, a person's credit rating will be affected even if it is not the one who is declaring bankruptcy. If the marital home is only in the name of the person who is not filing for bankruptcy, it will not affect the homeownership; however, if the home is co-owned, it may have to be sold to pay creditors or there is the option of buying out the other partner.

There are things a person who may be affected by a partner's bankruptcy can do. One is to speak with a licensed insolvency trustee who will explain how bankruptcy will affect a couple's financial circumstances. Another is to seek the guidance of a lawyer.

An Ontario family law lawyer can provide a client in such a circumstance with legal advice on how to proceed when it comes to issues like a matrimonial home. Bankruptcy can be a very stressful and uncertain road for many people. Contacting a lawyer for legal advice tailored to the individual facts of a case may be a way to mitigate the effects of an income problem.

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