Money management is one of the toughest challenges that married couples will face throughout their lifetime. From managing a mortgage to paying for their children’s college tuition, there are many expenses that are incurred during the relationship. Unfortunately, these expenditures have the potential to accumulate debt. Since financial matters are delicate subjects, couples struggle to decide whether to file for bankruptcy together or individually.
Both joint and individual bankruptcy filings offer advantages for couples. It’s important to consider all variables before making a final decision. As always, seeking the guidance from a Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney can help you and your spouse make the wisest decision possible. Joint bankruptcy advantages include:
- Paying the fees only once. If both partners are filing for bankruptcy, it’s important to note that there is no difference in fees for individual and joint filings. Instead of paying the fees twice, you can pay once with a joint filing.
- Less paperwork. The efficiency of filing together is very alluring for many couples, as most couples share the same paperwork and documentation.
- Increased protection. Since the debt becomes joint debt when filing for bankruptcy together, there is increased protection for both spouses.
Conversely, there are many reasons why couples might want to file for bankruptcy separately. Again, to determine which option is best, a bankruptcy attorney can highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each option relevant to your situation. Advantages of an individual filing include:
- Protected assets. Since assets might be lost through liquidation when filing for bankruptcy, it’s best to file separately to protect valuable property. Individual filing prevents the asset being lost to creditors.
- Lower income. To qualify for bankruptcy, the filer must pass a “means test” that determines whether or not he or she can pay the debt. When filing together, the joint incomes might be too high for the “means test” whereas a single filing with a lower income would pass.
- Protecting the other spouse. If the debt is under the name of one spouse, filing for bankruptcy individually wouldn’t involve the other spouse but would still relieve the financial hardship.