Should You File a Joint Bankruptcy Petition if You Are Married?

Under the bankruptcy law, if you are married, you can choose to file a joint bankruptcy petition, or you can file individually. Before you file, you need to take a careful look at your situation and what you want to accomplish, so that you take the measures that are in your best interests. Here are the key questions to ask:

How much property do you own jointly and how much do you own separately?

  • In a joint bankruptcy filing, all of your assets are subject to the bankruptcy proceeding. If you want to keep assets in a Chapter 7 filing, you will need to look at the exemptions that are available and determine if you have enough to cover the property you want to keep. If you or your spouse individually own a significant amount of non-exempt property, Bankruptcy may only be a good solution for one of you.

What debts are you trying to discharge?

  • When you file a joint bankruptcy petition, you can rid yourself of all dischargeable debts either of you owe, or that you owe jointly. If you have little or no joint debt, and you or your spouse has significant individual debt, an individual filing will probably be to your benefit.

What is your individual credit rating?

  • A joint bankruptcy will affect both of your credit scores, but an individual bankruptcy filing will only reflect on the credit rating of the person filing the petition. If you have strong credit and the debts are primarily those of your spouse, you may be best served by having your spouse file independently.

It is important to understand that, even if you file independent of your spouse, you must report your spouse’s income if you share the same household. The court will use this information when determining whether you qualify to permanently discharge debt under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13.

Contact John Hargrave and Associates

We have provided comprehensive counsel to individuals in and around Barrington, New Jersey, since 1977. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact our office by e-mail or call us at 856-547-6500.