I’m Married; Can I File for Bankruptcy Without my Spouse?

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Deciding if and when to file for bankruptcy is a huge decision in anyone’s life.  There are a multitude of factors that you must weigh in order to determine if bankruptcy would be a good solution for you.

Making that decision can become infinitely more difficult if you are married. Naturally, if your spouse is also deep in debt and has no other course of action, you may both jointly decide to file for bankruptcy together. Filing jointly does give you the benefit of erasing more of your total debt as a couple. Also, if you have a lot of jointly owned assets, your creditors will be able to collect from and/or seize those assets to repay your creditors, so filing jointly would make the most sense.

However, if you and your spouse keep your finances mostly separate (different bank accounts, etc) – you can file for bankruptcy on your own. You should consider doing so if you are the only one with significant debt issues. If your spouse has good credit and no long-standing, unpaid debts, there is no reason to involve him/her in your bankruptcy filing.

But Will the Court Take My Spouse’s Money into Consideration?

This is a big question that everyone asks in this particular situation. If you file for bankruptcy on your own, will the court take your spouse’s income into consideration? Will they be able to take his or her money in order to repay your debts?

Generally, if you had generated all of your unpaid debts outside of the marriage and you don’t have any or many jointly held assets, you can file for bankruptcy without worrying that the court will simply take your spouse’s money to pay for your mistakes. If you have a significant amount of debt that you incurred in your name only, especially before getting married, filing alone is a valid option for you.

Additionally, if your debt is due to a failed or struggling business, your spouse’s income will generally not be taken into consideration unless he or she is part owner of the business.

You will, however, have to include your spouse’s name and income in your bankruptcy paperwork. If your spouse makes a modest income, that money will most likely not affect your ability to file for bankruptcy. On the other hand, if your spouse happens to have a high paying job, that may affect your ability to file for bankruptcy, or may affect how much you are required to pay back (in a Chapter 13 filing), especially if you have jointly owned assets (marital expenses) like a home, car(s), and bank accounts.

Luckily, there is something called the Marital Adjustment Deduction that can potentially allow you to make deductions that will ultimately lower the amount of your spouse’s income that you must include in your bankruptcy paperwork.

Most importantly, there is no shame in filing for bankruptcy – whether you are single or married. The first and most crucial step toward a better financial future is asking for help when you need it most. Find out exactly how your life can change – for the better – by calling Veitengruber Law today. All initial consultations are free.

Image credit: Leland Francisco

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4 Responses to I’m Married; Can I File for Bankruptcy Without my Spouse?

  1. Pingback: Will I Lose Everything if I File for Bankruptcy? | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: Can I Include My Spouse’s Medical Debt in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy? | Veitengruber Law

  3. Pingback: 5 Bankruptcy Myths: Debunked | Veitengruber Law

  4. Pingback: 5 Common Bankruptcy Myths: Debunked | Veitengruber Law

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