Three Questions to Ask About Filing Bankruptcy Together

Your Debts, My Debts and Our Debts.
Married and struggling with money problems? Thinking about filing bankruptcy? You know married couples can file bankruptcy together, they do it all the time. In most cases it’s better for them if they do. But, what if your spouse doesn’t want to file or has very little debt? Did you know you can file by yourself? There are many situations that arise when it makes more sense for just one of you to file by yourself. In some cases, you both need to file, but you each may need to file a different type of bankruptcy.
Question 1. “What debt are we trying to get rid of?”
If you file jointly, you can get rid of: his debt, her debt and the joint debt. If only one of you files, only that person’s dischargeable debts will be wiped out and the family will be stuck with the spouse’s debts and any remaining joint debt.
If there is a lot of joint debt, it makes sense to file together to get the full benefit of the bankruptcy for both of you. When you file together there is one filing fee and one attorney fee. If there is very little joint debt, and only one of you has a lot of personal debt, there’s no reason for both of you to file.
Question 2. “What property do we own?”
When a couple files together, all the assets and property of both are included in the bankruptcy case. This means all property, whether owned separately or jointly. When only one of you files, only their property and assets are included. If your spouse owns a lot of property that would not be protected or exempt, you definitely want to file by yourself so that property and assets can be protected.
Question 3. “When should we meet with an attorney?”
Sooner, rather than later. There are so many things to consider when deciding if you should file, and then whether to file together. There are protections and exclusions you both may not be aware of. Talk with an experienced and knowledgeable bankruptcy attorney, early on, to help you make the decision. When you get the information early, you have time to look at options and find solutions to deal with problems that may come up.