Filing For Bankruptcy Independently When You Are Married

If you are so overwhelmed with debt that you do not know where to turn, you could consider bankruptcy. If you are married, you have the ability to file with your spouse or independently on your own, but if you are thinking of filing on your own, there are several things you should realize before you go through with an independent bankruptcy filing.

Both incomes matter when performing the means test

You have the legal right to file for bankruptcy independently when married if this is what you choose; however, you will not be able to perform the means test without adding in your spouse's income. This is a test that lawyers use to find out if a person qualifies for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is often the preferred branch, and the results are based on income. You may not earn a lot of income yourself, which means you could qualify for Chapter 7 if you were single, but you must add in your spouse's income even if you want to file on your own. This means that you might not qualify for this branch of bankruptcy, due to being over the income limits after adding both incomes together.

Your spouse might be left with some debts

Secondly, just because you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and receive a discharge (debt-forgiveness) does not mean that your spouse will be off the hook. If any of the debts the case discharged had your spouse's name on them, your spouse would still owe money for these debts. For example, if you have a joint credit card account and qualify for Chapter 7, your case would likely discharge the balance you owe on the card, but it would not eliminate the debt from your spouse. He or she would still be required legally to pay this debt, and there is nothing your Chapter 7 case can do about this.

You could lose assets that belong to both of you

The last thing to know is that you and your spouse could lose assets. The court is free to take away assets you have in a Chapter 7 case. If an asset is in both of your names, the court can take it away even if your spouse is not filing for bankruptcy with you.

Before you file for bankruptcy together or on your own, it is important to fully understand both the benefits it offers and the tradeoffs of filing. If you have questions or concerns about it, talk to a bankruptcy lawyer