Every marriage is different, especially when you consider the diversity in ownership of property, income, savings, and other assets both before and after the marriage. A common question, with this statement considered, is can I file a bankruptcy without my spouse? That is, can only one of the two individuals that are married file separate from the other individual? The answer is absolutely, one member of a household can file for bankruptcy while the other spouse does not.
Joint Debts and Joint Filing
This question comes up often, as typically both spouses’ names will appear on the mortgage, utility, and all other bills. Even if this is the case, one spouse can still file bankruptcy while keeping the other out of the proceedings. While your spouse will not have to attend the meeting of creditors, the trustee may still require documents from the non-filing spouse due to the intertwined nature of a married couples’ finances. Furthermore, you may still need to verify your spouse’s income and the trustee may legally ask questions regarding your spouses’ financial status.
With Joint debts, even though one spouse has filed for bankruptcy, it does not afford the non-filing spouse discharge or automatic stay from debts. It’s also important to note that the creditor will still look to the non-filing spouse for payment of debts which are jointly owned. Where the ability to file bankruptcy separately from your spouse does come in handy, however is when a creditor has to collect on a debt: they can only legally collect from the separate property of the non-filing spouse, which can act as a safeguard in some situations.
It’s important to explore both options when deciding to file separately, that is, look at filing together as a married couple and compare the benefits to just one spouse filing separately. It is therefore of the utmost importance to consult a Fort Worth bankruptcy attorney that can help you sift through the implications of both in accordance with your state’s laws.