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Marriage and Bankruptcy; a Match Made in Heaven?

As a single person, financial woes can be stressful to deal with, but adding a spouse to the mixture isn’t the type of “spice” that relationship counselors typically encourage. For couples who have not yet taken the leap, there should be little to no impact, unless there are jointly held property or debts. However, once you put a ring on it, the filing can get a bit more complicated. Here are some common questions for married couples about filing bankruptcy.

  1. Is my spouse required to file with me? No, you can choose to file either with or without your spouse. Ultimately though filing a bankruptcy is like buying a jet ski. Sooner or later your better half will see it in the garage. So, keep them in the loop. Whether or not spouses should be included in the filing is usually determined by the existence of any joint debts. If your spouse is jointly liable on a debt, then it’s probably worth it to file a joint petition. There is no additional cost to file a joint versus an individual petition, so date night should continue unabated.
  2. Do I need to include my spouse’s income and expenses? Yes, the bankruptcy code requires that the spouse’s income be provided in the petition. Luckily, your significant other’s living expenses, Macy’s card payments and other obligations, will be considered as part of the overall expenses of the family. This is true in a joint or individual case.
  3. What about the real property that I own with my spouse? Only half of the real property owned jointly with your spouse will need to be included in an individual bankruptcy petition. However, real property owned under tenancy by the entirety should protect the entire joint property unless the couple has joint debts. It’s important to provide your attorney with a copy of the deed in order to ensure that all property is kept safe and sound.
  4. Will the bankruptcy impact my spouses credit score? Typically, no, unless your spouse has co‑signed with you on any debts included in the filing.

Bankruptcy is complicated, even more so in a household with multiple incomes and jointly held property or debts. However, it can be a powerful tool to put your entire family on a path to greater prosperity in the future. Contact The Law Offices of Blake Goodman for a free consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your options.

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