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Custody battle shatters mother's financial stability

Divorce can certainly exact a high emotional toll as couples in New Jersey look to disentangle their lives and move on in separate directions. These emotions can be compounded when a divorcing individual is incurring financial struggle as a result of the split. Working through bankruptcy and divorce can be a combination that requires additional skilled legal experience.

Kelly Rutherford, a star of the television series "Gossip Girl," knows this struggle all too well. In the divorce from her German ex-husband, the actress has endured four years of a bitter and extremely expensive custody battle over the couple's two young children. The actress reports that when her ex-husband had his U.S. visa revoked, the children were sent to live with him in France with an unexpected ruling by a family law judge in the states. The custody battle has left the actress struggling to even afford housing following the financially draining struggle for custody of her children.

She says of her fight and dwindling finances, "I've traveled 40 times to either facilitate contact with their dad or visit them and bring them back and forth and paid for everything. Every penny from 'Gossip Girl,' my pension, my stocks, it's all be spent fighting for my children. The actress reports that these circumstances have left her with few viable options beyond bankruptcy for regaining her financial health.

While bankruptcy can discharge some debts, it cannot discharge all debts stemming from a New Jersey divorce. For example, alimony and child support payments cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. Additionally, discharge of any equitable distribution of debts can only occur under Chapter 13. However, it appears that these issues are less at play in this mother's fight for her children.

It is possible that the actress, or someone in a similar situation could incur substantial credit card debt from purchasing airline tickets, and handling other expenses related to the custody battle. Additionally the traveling and legal expenses could make mortgage payments difficult. Credit card debt, mortgage loans, taxes and several other forms of debt can be discharged through bankruptcy. It can be difficult to know what debt can and cannot be discharged under each chapter.

Accordingly, while it is imperative to have a skilled attorney in settling the terms of a divorce, it is equally as important to consult with a skilled bankruptcy attorney when looking to regain financial health following an expensive divorce.

Source: Business Insider, "'Gossip Girl' Star Kelly Rutherford on The Brink Of Bankruptcy After Bitter Custody Fight," Aly Weisman, April 30, 2013

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At the law offices of William H. Oliver, Jr. & Associates in Toms River and Lakewood, New Jersey, we represent clients in Toms River, Neptune, Trenton, Middletown, Red Bank, Wall, Lakewood, Lakehurst, Manchester, Asbury Park, Old Bridge, Jamesburg, Barnegat, Forked River, Manahawkin, Ocean Township, Brick, Manasquan, Howell, Freehold, Hazlet, Bradley Beach, Brown Mills, Long Branch, Keansburg, Marlboro, Bayville, Beachwood, Whiting, Sayreville, South River, East Brunswick, Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County, Burlington County and Mercer County.